You can learn a lot about life from the man on the street, especially if that street resides within one of the countless small towns that populate the quirky state of Florida. In his new documentary Florida Man, director Sean Dunne approaches a variety of colorful characters that one might pass on a daily basis without notice. Dunne notices, though, and he forces us to as well. In the process, he uncovers a series of surprising, eccentric and boisterous perspectives on what it means to survive in America today.
Dunne captures each of his fascinating subjects in the comforts of their natural habitats outside of bars, liquor stores, laundromats, dingy apartments and motel rooms. They're all here; the barroom brawlers, midnight philosophers, rugged retirees living the dream of beach side leisure, homeless vets, and sidewalk drunks. In their own unique ways, they are all preachers of the street gospel.
Some express the realities of their existence through an endless stream of soulful proselytizing. Others stand and face the camera in silent stoicism; the particulars of their individual struggles remain elusive, yet they're inherent in every crease that lines their faces like life maps.
"I just love Florida, man," boasts one resident who enjoys the sandy beaches and sunsets from his trailer. "There's my second home - ACE Liquor Store," admits another interview subject who spends his days and nights just trying to avoid conflict with the police.
Some are residents of the state. Others have migrated there from vastly different regions of the country. We intuit that each of them must have a fascinating story to share about where they came from, and the cards that life dealt them along the way. For the most part, Dunne teases us with only morsels from their life journeys, and invites the viewer to fill in the blanks for themselves.
After all, the characters that truly stay with you are the ones you're desperate to know more about. What Dunne does provide are the building blocks to an environment which many of us fail to consider while we rest comfortably in our securely defined circles. It's a big world out there, and even the man on the street has much to teach us.