Film Review: “Sunset Song” (2015) ★★★★


It’s not fair to give the entire credit to one director, from whom you know you can expect nothing but purity in filmmaking. After seeing Terence Davies’ “Deep Blue Sea” with Tom Hiddleston and incomparable Rachel Weisz, you know what Terence Davies as a filmmaker is capable of. But once you see “Sunset Song”, you realize that Davies is much more than a director; he’s a visual artist who knows well what to do from the beginning to the end. But it’s the story and the flawless performance of the cast that adds up to the already perfect recipe to compose a beautiful “Sunset Song” that you wish would never stop playing…

Chris Guthrie (Agyness Deyn) is the daughter of a tyrannical Scottish farmer, John Guthrie (Peter Mullan) who is a great master at turning anyone’s life miserable. He had already ruined the life of his own wife, who he turns into a “child producer”, while beating up his already grown up son, Will (Jack Greenlees). Chris is not even 19 years old, but already has seen enough to make her own decision. But due to her fear, she is unable to leave the farm and continue her work until the moment when she meets Ewan Tavendale (Kevin Guthrie) who brings a bit of sunshine into Chris’ stormy life.

Set in the early 1910s , it’s the beginning of the film that draws your attention as you get an instant chance to dislike Chris’ father right from his first appearance. Will is a young man, however, still afraid of his own father, and secretly wishes to leave the house for good. Chris is intelligent and highly ambitious young woman who dreams one day to live in a socialistic country. However, it’s the World War I that brings her back to reality, when the already married and mother of a child faces the challenge not every woman can carry on their tiny, but still strong shoulders.

Terence Davies in “Sunset Song” uses the same language of filmmaking, where he takes the camera and moves towards the actor and holds still until he gets everything possible from the ones who acts before the camera. For instance, the scene when John punishes Will for taking a gun, camera does not move anywhere the entire process, until Will puts his jacket back on with a great pain on his face. Those kind of scenes you’ll be seeing a lot in “Sunset Song” which I must say, becomes Davies’ trademark.

“Sunset Song” is the average period drama you think you will see. It has a bit of family drama, romance, love at first sight, happy marriage and the war that can break anyone but not the willingness of one person to overcome its aftermath. Deyn completely shines here delivering one of the most important performances of her career, while Davies’ approach is delightful, subtle and straight to the point. Director cleverly translates Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s novel onto the screen with no fear. It’s his confidence in his lead cast that makes “Sunset Song” worthwhile watching if you like watching period drama.

Opens May 13 in Toronto, May 27 in Vancouver, June 17 in Montréal, and select regional markets

 Opens in Canada:

May 13: Toronto, Cineplex Cinemas Varsity and VIP (55 Bloor St. W)

May 20: London, Hyland Cinema (240 Wharncliffe Rd. S)

May 27: Vancouver, Vancity Theatre (1181 Seymour St.)

May 28: Winnipeg, Cinematheque (100 Arthur St.)

June 3: Calgary, Globe Cinema (617 8 Ave SW)

June 3: Waterloo, Princess Twin (46 King St. N)

June 17: Montréal, Cinéma du Parc (3575, av. du Parc)* and Cinéma Beaubien (2396, rue Beaubien Est)*

June 17: Ottawa, ByTowne Cinema (325 Rideau St.)

June 17: Québec City, Cinéma Le Clap (2360, chemin Sainte-Foy)*

June 17: Cobourg, The Loft Cinema (201 Division St.)

*The film will be screening in English with French subtitles.

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