I have to preface this review with a funny story about my movie-going experience. Very often I have people who come and sit two seats away from me in a completely empty theater. As annoying as that may be to me (I just don’t understand it), this was next-level annoying, at the time.
I went to the Lincoln Plaza Cinemas, which is of course, near Lincoln Center – just to give you a picture of the neighborhood demographic and who might be in such a theater. So, first I saw Dheepan, and playing in the same theatre about 10 minutes afterward, was Sunset Song. Dheepan was the first movie of the day being shown at about 11 a.m. or so, and there were about 6 people in the theater. Dheepan goes off, I go to the ladies’ room and freshen up, stretch my legs, get a snack… When I return to the same theatre I just left five or 10 minutes earlier, there are like 50 senior citizens in the place, and it literally smells like they came on a field trip from Shady Pines. So, I take the same seat I had for the first show, on the aisle, by the door, in the last row. About ten minutes into the movie the door to the theater opens and it’s this old dude, and he is cussin’ up a storm, “How am I supposed to see anything when it’s so damn dark in here!” O.K. Pops… Here we go… He goes past my row and toward the front of the theater. About two minutes later he comes BACK up the aisle to the rear of the theater where I am sitting, stumbling about and eventually finds his way to bumping into my seat, first, then into me, as if he is going to go head-first over my head. So I say to him, “Uuuummm, would you like to sit in this row sir?” He says, “Yes.” I stand up to let him in, and dude takes my seat! I mean, Pops just jacked me for my seat and took it! So, I say, “Well…I wasn’t trying to give you MY seat, but you can have it,” at which point two ladies who were sitting in front of me began to laugh because they witnessed the entire ridiculous exchange. Not a word did he speak to me. Not a “thank you” or anything. He’s old, it’s dark, and the movie I came to see is playing damn it! I don’t have time for this! So, I go all the way over to the other side of the theater, take another aisle seat somewhere in the mid rows. About maybe another five minutes go by and all of a sudden I notice a light shining behind me. Where is it coming from?! Who has a…?!! Is that a flashlight?!!! The old dude is wandering around on the side of the theater that I moved to after he took my seat!!! He’s got this flashlight and is stumbling around some more, obviously unable to see from the back row he felt he just had to be in. Another disruption. Eventually, he walks all the way around, back to the door he came in – and he is cussing the entire time – and leaves the theater and does not return. But there’s more. That is not the end. They’re not done irritating me yet. About 10 minutes AFTER THAT a little old woman, perhaps in her late 70’s who obviously cannot see, comes through the door that is on the opposite side of the theater from where I now sit, walks across the entire rear of the theater, down the aisle, directly to my row and says in the sweetest little old lady voice, “Excuse me.” Uuuuuuuuugh!!!!! I get up so she can get in the row and she takes so long to get past one seat, I hate to swear but I swear to you, I thought my head was going to explode! Tippy-toes couldn’t seem to make it past that first seat. And she was trying! So, I move again, and change my seat further back, near a beam, and finally settle in to get into this movie and pray that this beam keeps me from even being seen by anyone else who should happen by. I love old folks, I really do, but a word to the wise and you can pass this on to the elderly people in your life who still enjoy a good movie now and again – – please get to the movie before it starts when the lights are still up and you can still see where the heck you’re going! This has been a Public Service Announcement, and I speak on behalf of movie goers everywhere.
Now, on to Sunset Song.
Based on a Scottish novel, in Sunset Song we experience a few years in the life of a Scottish girl named Chris during the early 1900’s. I have never read the book, but I don’t have to have read the book to judge whether the movie is done well or not. This young woman experiences quite a bit of tragedy in her life, beginning with a super-dysfunctional family; but she always had potential to be able to improve her circumstances. The problem was, it just wasn’t in the cards and nothing worked out as she planned. Every time things started to look up for her, or a positive opportunity arose, something would happen to burst her bubble. Sometimes the period where things were looking up was longer than others, but the bubble eventually burst. Imagine if you will, every hope you have to improve the quality of your life gets dashed, over and over again, yet you still have to find a way to find happiness. Chris experiences periods of freedom and happiness which seem so short lived compared to the amount of “bad” things that happen and hard times she goes through. Sunset Song is a story of broken dreams, disappointments, maturity and growth, adapting to and accepting circumstances and people – particularly the people we love – as they really are, and not grumbling about how you wish they were.
As interesting as the subject matter could have been, the movie dragged out at times. There were scenes that went on for faaaar too long; I suppose for dramatic effect. But, after the first or second drawn out scene, the method gets old, as it made the movie tedious to watch. At another point in the movie, there was a Scottish hymn played in its entirety, for at least a good three minutes. I fell asleep at that point and was awakened by someone in the film breaking a china cup, I think, or something… At that point I had lost interest and was struggling to get through to the end. The cast was not evenly capable in their acting abilities, and none of the other actors were on par with Peter Mullin, who played Chris’ father, John Guthrie. Once his role diminishes, the movie becomes far less interesting. Agyness Deyn, as Chris, gives it a good effort, but falls short during the most dramatic scene, where there is rending of garments and tortured cries of agony over some great loss or another. Also, I don’t know if this movie contains one of the worst or best child-bearing scenes I have ever had the displeasure to experienced on film. The screaming was absolutely unbearable.
All the distractions from the Shady Pines crew aside, Sunset Song earns 6/10 “bloops.” It was not bad, but could have been so much better.