DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

SUNSET SONG (director/writer: Terence Davies; screenwriter: novel by Lewis Grassic Gibbon; cinematographer: Michael McDonough; editors: David Charap; music: Gast Waltzing; cast:  Agyness Deyn (Chris Guthrie), Peter Mullan (John Guthrie) Daniela Nardini (Jean Guthrie), Jack Greenlees (Will Guthrie), Ian Pirie (Chae), Mark Bonnar (Rev, Gibbon), Kevin Guthrie (Ewan Tavendale), Ron Donachie (Uncle Tam), Linda Duncan McLaughlin (Aunt Janet), Julian Nest (Peter Semple), Simon Tait (Dr. Meldrum), Douglas Rankine (Long Rob); Runtime: 135; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Sol Papadopoulos, Roy Boulter, Nicolas Steil; Magnolia; 2015-UK)

"An absorbing slow-moving coming-of-age family drama set in the early 20th century in rural North-East Scotland."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

An absorbing slow-moving  coming-of-age family drama set in the early 20th century in rural North-East Scotland. It's based on the heart-wrenching 1932 novel by Lewis Grassic Gibbon and is lyrically written and directed by the great Terence Davies  ("'Distant Voices, Still Lives"/"The House of Mirth").

The gentle teenage heroine
Chris Guthrie (Agyness Deyn, English actress) lives on an isolated farm, outside Aberdeen, with her unhappy older brother Will (Jack Greenlees), her stern father (Peter Mullan) and  long-suffering passive mother (Daniela Nardini), plus the young twin boys. The patriarch bullies the family into accepting whatever he says as gospel. He does not tolerate any mocking of the Lord, and when Will does so the grown man gets a humiliating whipping. When he forces his aging wife to get pregnant against her wishes, she loses her will to live and takes her own life. The despondent Will marries and leaves the family for Argentina, never to be heard from again. Chris hates her father but is too weak to oppose him. When he has a stroke, Chris fails to take care of him and he dies. Chris inherits the farm, and out of loneliness marries an awkward farmer friend of Will's she thinks will be gentle, Evan (Kevin Guthrie). But after a short period of happiness things change dramatically with the First World War, that sees hubby in the army and going through a  personality change that makes him behave like a pig. When Chris learns of hubby's death, she is alone with her child on the farm but discovers an inner peace and becomes like the farm land that handles all kinds of conditions.

The filmmaking is exceptional, but the story is a grueling one and the acting by the lead actress is too unnatural to make the epic into something more than a beautiful aesthetic piece.

REVIEWED ON 11/16/2016       GRADE: B+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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