Year:  2021

Director:  Michel Franco

Rated:  MA

Release:  July 7, 2022

Distributor: Kismet

Running time: 82 minutes

Worth: $15.00
FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

Tim Roth, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Samuel Bottomley, Albertine Kotting McMillan

… Tim Roth’s performance is superb

This is a very odd film. It raises a great many questions, but only answers some of them. (That’s not necessarily a flaw in itself, given that real life obviously involves the unexplained.) It’s arguably underwritten, and definitely frustrating at times. But it gets us in, and Tim Roth’s performance is superb.

Roth plays Neil Bennett, who is holidaying in Acapulco with his sister Alice (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and her son and daughter. They’re evidently wealthy. There’s an air of ambivalence – of potential ‘trouble in paradise’ – from the very beginning, and indeed it’s not long before sadness changes everything: Alice is told that their mother has died; she’s naturally grief-stricken, while Neil is… enigmatic. Naturally, the four of them must fly back to England, but Neil can’t because he left his passport back at the hotel. Or did he?

You can pick from a wide range of options in interpreting Neil’s subsequent behaviour. He could be called passive-aggressive or simply passive, numbingly immoral or amoral. Then again, he might be very relaxed or lazy – or sociopathic – or almost catatonic. Or possibly having a nervous breakdown. Or just a creep. Whatever the analysis, he talks very little and his actions are selfish and self-indulgent. He drinks incessantly, lies and rarely explains himself. Alice speaks for us all when she shouts “What the fuck is wrong with you?” Somehow, there are moments of black humour amidst the distress. And then there are some sudden and seemingly random acts of extreme violence…

In Sundown, writer-director Michel Franco has echoes of Camus and Beckett, and – in the use of beautiful but desolate wide shots – the director Michelangelo Antonioni. This is not exactly a movie to be recommended, but if you do see it, you’ll be curious to find out how the story ends.


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