Sunset Song

Sunset Song

(2015)

An epic story of love, loss, and the land that lies beneath it all.

Lush, Scottish drama from Terence Davies (The Deep Blue Sea), based on Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s 1932 novel about a farming family struggling to eke out a living against the devastation of World War I.... More

"It’s the early 20th-century in rural Scotland and Chris Guthrie is a young woman with plans. Excelling at her schooling and in possession of a burgeoning independent streak, she seems destined for a job in teaching. But family life has its own pull and her religious father exerts a formidable force on his brood, as well as on her mother whose body he treats as both refuge and battleground. As the constellation of her family shifts around her and romance comes calling, Chris grows into womanhood just as the First World War begins to devastate a generation." (London Film Festival)Hide

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Flicks Review

For sheer rapturous beauty, Terence Davies’s Sunset Song might be the film to top this year. This long-gestating adaptation of Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s classic 1932 Scottish novel is as lyrical, immaculate and acutely evocative of period and setting as anything the British director has crafted in his criminally none-too-prolific career.... More

Suffused with the punishing rural misery and heartbreak of Thomas Hardy at his gloomiest, the film finds Davies dialling back his signature impressionistic style, so masterfully employed in works like The Long Day Closes and The Deep Blue Sea, for a more straightforward narrative. But he overcomes creaky coming-of-age beats through the deep reservoirs of feeling gathered by Michael McDonough’s luminous, painterly lensing and the revelatory Aygness Deyn, who plays the story’s crop-farming heroine Chris Guthrie as a flickering, resilient flame that refuses to be extinguished by the ravages of time.

Sunset Song stacks its glacial, but never dull, 135-minute runtime with episodes of abusive patriarchy, suicide, maternal filicide, abandonment and souring marriages. But Deyn’s radiant, inspiring tenacity makes one occasionally forget how bleak it actually all is. This is one gorgeous, sad, elegiac ballad of a film, brimming with images that demand to be experienced on the largest screen possible. Whether gazing into the rolling, preternaturally green Aberdeenshire hills or cloistered inside Vermeer-like cottage interiors, McDonough’s camera envelops the viewer with a muted delicacy that recalls Nestor Almendros and Haskell Wexler’s transcendental magic-hour cinematography in Days of Heaven. It’s just that stunning.Hide


The Peoples' Reviews

Average ratings from 3 ratings, 2 reviews
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BY Newt superstar

An intimate look in to the life of a young lady dealing with the hardships of life in the early 20th century - forsaking personal ambitions for the good of her family and living the highs and lows of a marriage eventually strained by the outbreak of WWI. Agyness Deyn as the protagonist is a star and her narration/monologue pieces are some of the strong points of this film as is Peter Mullan's performance. The pacing is great and the story is engaging for its duration of just over the two-hour... More mark.Hide


BY DanielK superstar

Easy to admire, hard to love, and virtually impossible to get invested in, Sunset Song is a gorgeous slog. As with director Terence Davies’ The Deep Blue Sea, the film is well-acted, looks incredible and has a couple of entrancing sequences (especially in the final stanza), but it’s also dramatically inert and, in all honesty, fairly trying.

Is it just me, or are these beautifully lensed, misery-soaked pastorals starting to feel tired? With the exception of the middle sequence, when the... More characters get to enjoy a few scant scraps of happiness, the gorgeousness of the images feels like a cheat. Each immaculate composition feels gratuitous, totally out of synch with both the film’s thesis (that beauty is rare and fleeting) and its reliably depressing narrative (the final act pile-up of misfortune is especially histrionic and unconvincing). As with the otherwise totally dissimilar The Neon Demon which I watched the same day, Sunset Song might be amazing to look at, but it manages to be both gratingly overwrought and more than a little dull all at the same time.

(Full disclosure: I could have really done without the two rape sequences as well. Because I watched Sunset Song back-to-back with The Neon Demon I had the unfortunate experience of seeing around half a dozen sexual assaults committed against women in just over four hours of viewing. It was tedious, cynical and wearying. If you can’t tell, I was in a very bad mood by the end of the day, and my grades for both films almost certainly suffered accordingly).Hide


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The Press Reviews

80% of critics recommend.
Rotten Tomatoes Score. More reviews on Rotten Tomatoes

  • "Sunset Song"... falls short of the intended cumulative effect, its emotional power undercut by its studied, episodic unfolding. Full Review

  • The film pointedly contrasts the splendour of the Scottish landscape with the punishingly austere lives of the farmers who toil in the fields. Full Review

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