Directed by: Michel Franco
Distributed by: Bleecker Street
Written by Jeff Sparks
“Sundown” is the newest film by Mexican director Michel Franco that stars legendary actors Tim Roth and Charlotte Gainsbourg as two siblings on vacation in Mexico that drift apart due to a family tragedy that they handle in different ways, leading to many twists that occur along the way as the film unfolds at its own pace. The film opens with Neil (Roth) on vacation with his sister (Gainsbourg) Alice and her two kids on a quiet getaway in the beautiful but dangerous location of Acapulco on the Pacific coast. The film sustains this quietness throughout as we see Neil abandon his family at the airport when they are attempting to rush home due to a death in the family. Alone back at the beach, Neil mingles and drinks with the locals, avoiding all his problems that are causing outrage in his family back home, leaving the viewer wondering why. With very little information about the characters and minimal dialogue, the film leaves it up to the viewer to decide what the character’s motivations were when the credits roll. Without spoiling anything I will say that the reveals along the way are what make the film worthwhile.
With many wide angles and still shots, the camera keeps us at a distance from the characters, the way Neil keeps the people around him at arm’s length. This causes a disconnect between the viewer and any of the characters as Franco chooses to leave most emotion out of the equation, giving off an empty feeling that caused me to forget about the film hours later. Despite the limited amount, the emotion in the performances is strong, especially from Gainsbourg who can represent the extremes of anger and sadness better than anyone. Roth also does well with a subtle performance as a man who chooses not to get emotional about anything, even violence he sees at his seedy hotel in this dangerous location. Although the performances are good there just isn’t enough in the script that makes them memorable. These characters just aren’t very interesting. It’s hard to imagine how less interesting they would be without these great actors. While the characters aren’t anywhere close to the best of the year they are interesting enough due to the talent that is on display, which is what I would say about the film itself as well.
“Sundown” is on VOD.