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MOVIES: Sundown - Review

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Sundown is the latest film from director Michel Franco, which has moments of breathtakingly dark humour and centres around a rich family and in particular, a wealthy man – Neil who abandons his sister (Charlotte Gainsboourg) and his niece and nephew (Samuel Bottomley) to disappear into the lifestyle of Acapulco, played brilliantly with a coldness and aloofness that comes with Tim Roth – the second film at the London Film Festival that he’s been in. Unfortunately, this is no Bergman Island, coming hot on the heels of the excellent The White Lotus that also dealt with similar themes of bad stuff happening to rich people while on holiday. Sundown has a distinctively nihilist approach to it – nothing ends up well for the characters involved – pretty much every character in this movie has something bad happen to them, and the pitch-black humour of Sundown wasn’t really there.

The film leaves a lot for the audience to interpreted and it doesn’t overwhelm you with info dumps about what’s going on – it too me longer than expected to work out that Neil’s sister was in fact his sister and wasn’t his wife. The coldness just leans into how depressing Sundown is to watch, which maybe I wasn’t in the mood for at the time – but the more removed from it I am the more I feel strangely drawn to it in a way – the moments of promise, especially with an ending reveal that explain maybe why Neil did what he did – are great, and when the film takes a step back and lets you sit in the moment, it’s easily at its strongest.

The pace is brilliant – at 83 minutes this thing just flies by. The unlikeable protagonist of Neil doesn’t make up for it however and the film just comes across as a tad empty – almost hollow, there are few characters to cheer for here – it’s very much in the mould of The White Lotus but perhaps comes across as even harsher than the HBO miniseries, the sudden moments of violence that happen through the film come out of nowhere and completely shock you – they’re as cold and as brutal as the rest of the film, and entirely unforgiving.

The central performances of Tim Roth and Charlotte Gainsbourg anchor this and they really excel – and the cinematography absolutely helps rather than hinders this one. Whilst Sundown isn’t entirely bad and I still got plenty from it – it falls apart at the seams.

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