Little Miss Sunshine Film Analysis

The film Little Miss Sunshine, Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Farris, explores the lives of a regular American family and how they change their lives in front of us in the ‘Combie’ van on the road to the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant. The film examines the issues of winning and losing, and what it means to be a winner, throughout many sequences in the film as well as exploring the value of family.
The directors and the cinematic team use an extreme range of camera techniques, costuming, and sound techniques to reshape our understanding of winning and losing in the world we live in today. Firstly the directors and their team use a variety of different camera techniques to shape our view on the characters, and ultimately change our view in the world. In the opening sequence each character is introduced using different camera shots. For example Olive’s father is first projected to the audience as a success.
There is a sequence of close ups and mid ranged shots which show Richard confidently speaking in a spotlight at the front of the room. However the cinematic team then use a cut to a point of view shot of what Richard sees when he has finished talking, which allows us to then see how much of a failure he really is, as there is only five, half asleep, bored people in the room and only one person applauds Richards work. This first sequence allows us to see that Richard acts and feels like a winner to himself, but when he is seen with the rest of the world he is failure and a loser.

The directors have used this sequence to shape our understanding of winning and losing as it employs the idea that winning and losing is based on comparing yourself to the rest of the world, instead of being on how you feel and view yourself. Secondly the costuming used in the film has a big effect on shaping our view on the characters and their position in the movie world. The characters in the Hoover family are costumed as a very average family. Throughout the movie the Hoover family is suggested to be positioned at the lower end of the economic wealth scale.
However this is most obvious when Olive finally reaches the Little Miss Sunshine competition. When all the competitors are introduced on stage we see Olive is far out of place just through her basic average costuming, compared to the other girls who are dressed like little Barbie dolls, with glittery clothes and excessive make up. Even though Olive is out of place and obviously doesn’t belong in the competition, she still reflects Grandpa’s view on classifying winners and losers which was introduced before he died. Grandpa believes that a real loser is someone who is so afraid of not winning they don’t even try.
Through the costuming and Olives actions the directors implant that view of winning and losing into the audience, which then reflects on our world today, as we need to show more support, not for the winners of a competition, but the courage people have developed to enter a competition. The Final key technique which is employed by the cinematic team of Little Miss Sunshine is the use of sound. Throughout the film there is an evident mixture of diegetic and non-diegetic sounds. In the scene were Frank and Dwayne are out on the pier, starts with a non-diegetic voice over from the Little Miss Sunshine pageant saying ‘America, it’s so beautiful’.
These words introduce the scene as the diegetic sounds of nature at the beach take over and remind us of nature’s healing presence as we then see the first real bonding between Frank and Dwayne. The directors have chosen to use these sound techniques to help the audience feel the repairing sense of nature as they start to learnt the value of family with frank and Dwayne. The value of family which is also reflected on our world is that no matter how much we try and push them away they will always be there when we need, and that’s the true value of family shown throughout the film.
The film Little Miss Sunshine, Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Farris, explores the lives of a regular American family to portray key values which should be inherited by our society. The film analyses the concepts of winning and losing, and what it means to be a winner, throughout many sequences in the film as well as exploring the value of family. The director and the cinematic team use an extreme range of camera techniques, costuming, and sound techniques to help the storyline shape our understanding of winning and losing in the world we live in today. Adrian Pace, Year 11 Word Count- 795

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