Sunset Song

"Excellent"

Sunset Song Review


This isn't your usual period movie. A powerfully emotional depiction of rural Scottish life at the turn of the 20th century, Terence Davies' drama is both strikingly earthy and artfully beautiful. Based on the classic 1932 novel by Lewis Grassic Gibbons, it's a gritty story that takes a deeply personal approach to both the time and place, building complex characters that are so easy to identify with that we feel each surge of happiness and heartbreak.

It's set in The Mearns, in the Scottish north east, where Chris Guthrie (Agyness Deyn) grew up on her family farm hoping to one day become a teacher. But her perpetually pregnant mother (Daniela Nardini) simply can't take any more of this, and her sensitive brother Will (Jack Greenlees) moves to get away from their hardened father John (Peter Mullan), leaving Chris to care for him. Eventually she ends up running the farm herself, and finally finds some happiness when she falls for nice-guy neighbour Ewan (Kevin Guthrie). She worries about him becoming like her father, but their marriage is blissfully sweet. Until the Great War breaks out and he enlists to join the fight.

The story's main focus is on the way the demands of life change us in both obvious and subtle ways. This gives the film a complexity that gets deep under the skin, making the themes timeless while also challenging preconceptions. For example, instead of just being a villainous brute, John's violence might be a symptom of his experiences. And Chris' tough-minded tenacity may come from the same place that pushed her mother over the edge. Like us, these are people trying to steer their destinies in the face of everyday pressures and the forces of nature. And yet the film never feels terribly bleak. It's hard and gruelling, but also hopeful.

Deyn gives a remarkably open performance as Chris, even as what happens to her play out like some cruel 19th century novel. But she finds warmth in every scene, and her joy is just as strong as her sadness. Opposite her, Mullan seems perhaps a bit too thuggish, but Guthrie strikes just the right balance as the charming, expressive Ewan. From start to finish, Davies assembles the film beautifully, capturing the staggering landscapes, glorious sunsets and pounding rainstorms to weave them right into the fabric of the story. And for a film based on such a beloved novel, it's remarkably unfussy, avoiding big costume-drama flashiness for something much more introspective and memorable.

Rich Cline

Watch the trailer for Sunset Song here:



Sunset Song

Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Run time: 135 mins

In Theaters: Friday 4th December 2015

Production compaines: Art4noise, Holdings Ecosse, Hurricane Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

IMDB: 6.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Roy Boulter, Sol Papadopoulos, Nicolas Steil

Also starring:

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