As seen at the 2009 SXSW Film
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.
3.16.2009 at the Paramount Theatre in Austin, TX.
That Evening Sun is rated PG-13 and
runs 110 minutes.
Back to Home