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  That Evening Sun

Starring: Hal Holbrook, Ray McKinnon, Carrie Preston, Mia Wasikowska

Directed by: Scott Teems

Produced by: Terence Berry, Walton Goggins, Ray McKinnon, Laura D. Smith

Written by: Scott Teems

Distributor: Freestyle Releasing

As seen at the 2009 SXSW Film Festival:

      In 2007, the legendary Hal Holbrook returned to film acting after a six-year lull with a supporting performance for the ages in Into the Wild. He’s back to playing a leading role in That Evening Sun, a quietly powerful Southern tale that will linger in viewers’ minds days after they see it.

     Based on a short story by William Gay, the film follows Abner Meecham (Holbrook), an 80-year-old Tennessee man who escapes from a depressing nursing-home to return to his longtime farm. Conflict ensues when Abner finds the deadbeat Lonzo Choat (Ray McKinnon) living there with his wife and daughter (Carrie Preston and Mia Wasikowska, respectively). Apparently, Abner’s son, who put him in the nursing home to begin with, leased Lonzo the place with the option to buy. Despite Lonzo’s threats, Abner doesn’t intend to leave: he sleeps in the shed out back as tension further escalates. As That Evening Sun progresses, the viewer realizes early on that they’re in for a showdown, but watching how it happens and how these characters develop makes for a truly involving experience.

     This is a strong feature debut for writer/director Scott Teems, who allows the emotions to slowly build and take hold over the audience. In the process, he brings out the film’s unique Southern setting, both in the visuals and in the characters. But the real distinguishing quality of That Evening Sun is the cast, who turn in excellent performances across the board. Holbrook’s Abner, while set in his ways and hot-tempered, is a sympathetic and complex protagonist. It’s worth noting that he’s one of the few strong elderly characters we’ve seen in recent American film, and this adds an additional dimension to the material. McKinnon makes for a thoroughly yucky villain in Lonzo, but the character becomes a lot deeper than that in the third act. That Evening Sun is one of those movies that the viewer must just take in as it unfolds and, by the end, they will have discovered unexpected and enriching rewards.

-Danny Baldwin, Bucket Reviews

Review Published on: 3.22.2009

Screened on: 3.16.2009 at the Paramount Theatre in Austin, TX.


That Evening Sun is rated PG-13 and runs 110 minutes.

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