Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Sunset Limited

I went into this one with absolutely no knowledge of what it was about other than the actors involved. Needless to say, I was absolutely not expecting the film it turned out to be.

It's not easy for a single scene film to achieve what this one does. It takes strong actors with heavy dialogue, which this film easily supplies.  It becomes more an instrument of theater than cinema in some ways.  I tried to think back to the last single scene film that I could recall. I dredged up a memory from maybe circa 2002 involving Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman. Yes, that would be Tape.
I found Tape to be quite successful in it's ambitions in that it had a much more surprising arc for the characters involved and that it got you to invest more and more emotionally as the film progressed.

The Sunset Limited, although a nice surprise and really just being a great treat to see these fine actors in this light, didn't quite achieve as much in my book.
For the first 45 minutes it definitely carried it's weight. But as the movie carried on, it starts to drone on and I found I actually became more divested. The writers draw too much attention to their clever dialogue for my taste. There are more than one instance in which Samuel L. Jackson says something clever or profound and Tommy Lee Jones repeats it, emphasizing it, after which Samuel L. Jackson says something like, "Yeah, you like that?". When Tommy delivers his vital lines, Samuel also espouses these with some nod of, "oh I like that!" or "That's well said!". It's kind of ridiculous how much the writers pat themselves on the back and definitely detracts from the scene.

Having said this, try not to let it detract too much. There is some really good dialogue here. It seems a goldmine for a philosophy student. If you like to think (whether it be about God, morals, ethics, the merits or redemption or life in general), then this is a very good watch. It will leave lingering thoughts and questions in your head for a while. I'm still trying to Follow Tommy out that door in understanding how he came to where he is.

What do we value in life? Brotherhood? Humanity? Or is it all just about cultural achievements which are as dust in the wind. If those achievements reflect what we are, or where we are going, is there any point in investment anymore?

It's all interesting food for thought and well played out. And though I think plot-wise it starts to unravel and push the viewer out towards the end, I'll still love it for those first 45 minutes in which I couldn't tear myself away.

The clash of a Nihilist against a Man of Faith played to a tee.  I wouldn't miss this one.


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