- Movie Rating -

Sunset Song (2015)

| May 10, 2016

I have a friend who refers to British director Terence Davies as the Terence Malick for people who require the textures and a plot.  Admittedly, Malick often requires you to supply your own.  Davies’ work is similar in tone, dealing with love, loss and sometimes reconciliation when it doesn’t end in tragedy.  His best work, for me, was a brilliant adaptation of Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth in 2000 featuring an unexpectedly brilliant performance by Gillian Anderson as a 19th century woman who invites unwelcomed advances that destroy her social standing – it’s kind of a Victorian era commentary on cancel culture.

Sunset Song isn’t as striking but is works none-the-less.  Based on a 1932 novel by Lewis Grassic Gibbon and provided with subtitles to help us Westerners get through the Scottish accents, this story, like Mirth, is also about the narrow spaces that women were expected to exist in at the turn of the century.  The focus falls on Chris Guthrie (Agyness Deyn) and her maturation into womanhood beginning literally with her beginnings as we see her mother in screams of marital rape that then cut forward nine months into the pain of giving birth to twins.

The mother (Daniela Nardini) is not quite right. She warns Chris about rape and then kills herself and her twin newborns.  The suicide leaves Chris and her brother Will (Jack Greenlees) along with their bullish and abusive father (Peter Mullen) whose approach to his children is either violence or a sexual advance.  Will cuts out, heading to Aberdeen, he is eventually married.  He warns Chris about not falling into the same trap as her mother but fortunately the father is very soon out of the picture.

Freed of her father’s sickness, Chris eventually meets up with a nice bloke named Ewan (Kevin Guthrie) and they get married and determines not to continue the family sickness.  But then World War I breaks out and Ewan is called up.  The movie ends on a note that seems to have no real motivation and, I suspect, would have made more sense if the film were half an hour longer.  Yet, I wouldn’t deny the experience.  This is a great looking film with a great performance in its middle.  Davies is a director who can even make his flawed films unmissable.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2016) View IMDB Filed in: Drama