Release Date: June 3, 2016
Running Time: 135 minutes
Agyness Deyn puts her modeling days firmly behind her with a quiet and unpretentious performance that gains in strength with every passing minute in director Terrence Davies’ beautifully photographed but dour adaptation of Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s 1932 novel Sunset Song. Deyn plays Chris Guthrie, the daughter of a coldhearted, unforgiving Scottish farmer (Peter Mullan) who tends to his land with more love and affection than he possesses for his family. Mullan plays John Guthrie without a hint of remorse, which factors into how we come to regard Chris as both a survivor and a pioneer in the rugged countryside of pre- and post-World War I Scotland. Deyn never allows Chris’ relationship with her emotionally abuse father to define Chris, but she does use it to inform Chris’ transformation from bystander to her own seemingly predetermined future to a woman who chooses her own path in life and love. The war, though, causes changes everything, including her relationship with her husband Ewan (Kevin Guthrie). The war affords Chris an opportunity—as cruel as it may—to come into her own or find herself reliving the living hell she endured under her father’s ironfisted rule. Deyn slowly finds within Chris the fortitude that is required to withstand the dire circumstances she must face as both teenager and adult, especially when she experiences an unexpected betrayal of trust that casts a dark shadow over Sunset Song’s final 30 minutes. Davies tells Sunset Song with sober realism although the deliberate pacing that unnecessarily prolongs the proceedings can be frustrating at times. But Davies vividly whisks us back to a time and a place when women were not valued by a male-dominant society and to so much as question the merits of a war left you branded a coward.
Aired: June 2, 2016
Web site: http://www.magpictures.com/sunsetsong/