The Sunset Limited Reviews
Two men in an apartment with their opposing beliefs.
What a powerful and emerging film that depicts the two opposing sides of this universe. I was really surprised by the quality of this "little" film. This isn't a movie about two people talking in a room about random stuff. This isn't a film about two life-travelers that engage in an ongoing argument about the human condition. This is a film about the quality of life. Not the meaning of it but the quality. The details in it's design. The true valor's clockwork.
The duality of belief, as a general term, is analyzed completely in this great approach of the Cormac McCarthy novel in which the two main protagonists, "named" simply Black (Samuel L. Jackson) and White (Tommy Lee Jones) are debating over a serious and dangerous issue. "White tried to jump in front of a train and Black came and saved his ass. He carries him in his apartment and tries to put some sense into this White dude." Right? Not really. "The movie also promotes religion and is an ongoing boredom that I completely despise." RIght? Not really again. This has a greater meaning than just that. We live in a world filled with pathetic lies, corny truths, raised flags over white buildings and big letters over or on the dark ones. We live in a world where prostitution is legalized even in the cultural state of the society. We live in a world where rejection, where pain, where slavery and failure are common attraction to the atrocious tourists. We are hoping to free the world from the hands of the manipulators and selfish dictators, we organize revolutions, we fight for freedom but in the end we all get trapped in the same positions as we were before. This is what this movie is about. It's about the ongoing fight carried to win our faith back. Faith, science, culture, logic, mathematics, metaphors, feelings, achievements... They are all the same. They are contents, ingredients and thoughts that the humankind must have in order to survive the greatest threat of them all. The threat which is not the monetary system, the threat which is not the harsh reality, the threat which is not the solely figurative place of the man in the world, but the threat that is represented in the lack of faith in ourselves. We are our own guides because we rule this world. This is why this movie has captured my attention completely. It's not a masterpiece, it's not a grand scale picture, it's not a studio banking option, it's not even part of the best films in the last years but... at the same time... it's simply great. I loved it because it really balances amazingly well the truth revealed along the film with the denouement. They are identical as both form and content.
I also liked the little details like the black coffee, the text erased at the bottom of the Bible, the absence of tv and radio, the lockers on the door and not to mention the biggest detail of them all... the room. Just think about the room vs. everything else. Order vs. Chaos. Even in a messy world we could find order...
Going further to the execution, the story is well structured, the dialogues are haunting, the cliches are gone because even if you find them they tend to leap by the end of the film, the acting is impeccable and the technical aspect of the movie was a comfortable surprise. It's exactly what the film needed. I can't talk too much about this film because I don't want to enter into the details... I just hope people could see what a good movie this really is. I'm pretty sure few movies captured my attention as this one did. Like Kubrick's 2001, this is a movie about content and... containers.
Art Direction: 6,5/10.
When you combine both - you get something like The Sunset Limited, a two person play, taking place in a single room of a dingy apartment, where not much happens except the magic of a terrific script by Cormac McCarthy and the wonderful acting being displayed by Tommy Lee Jones (who also directed), and Samuel L. Jackson.
If you are a fan of car chases and things blowing up - then this film is not for you. It is a play, and as such, is all about the words... and what words. A 90-minute discourse takes place concerning faith and the human condition that aptly supports both sides of every argument.
From a simple action (not seen), the rest of the play develops - In a nutshell (and I'm not giving anything away here); Jones attempts to take a leap in front of an oncoming train, only to run into Jackson. One has no faith in anything and feels humanity is doomed, while the other has found himself in the Lord and believes in the covenant that he is put on this earth to help his fellow man. What ensues is argument and counter argument as Jackson tries to save Jones, and Jones continues to refute Jackson's beliefs.
The subject of faith is well-traveled territory, and in lesser hands, this play could exhibit a huge yawn, but McCarthy keeps things interesting, weaving from a certain directness to abstracts and allegory; and it all gives the two actors plenty to chew on.
Jones filming technique here is simple and the editing flawless. Since the two characters are locked in a single room, nuance and little everyday things carry more weight. There is enough background noise to give you the feeling that you really are in a seedy apartment located in a bad neighborhood somewhere in NYC.
I really want to read this play - taking my time with the concepts and the language in which they are presented. Does this make a good movie? In my opinion yes, though I'm sure there are those who will find this dry and uninteresting.
Two lonely middle-aged men, one Black(Samuel L. Jackson) and one White(Tommy Lee Jones, who also directs), a university professor, have the best conversation they have had in a very long time.(The play is really not about race, by the way.) It's a shame that it took Black saving White from throwing himself in front of a subway train for it to happen. Black is trying to make sure White does not try it again, using the Bible as his one and only reference book while White counters with the awfulness of his surroundings and pretty much the entire human race.
Deftly, "The Sunset Limited" transcends its minimalist setting to get fully beneath your skin, no matter where on the debate you may be. Personally, I'll always side with the guy who has read more than one book. But in the spirit of the film's search for meaning in perhaps random events, I'm left wondering if there is any reason why the 155th Street-8th Avenue subway station, one stop away from Yankee Stadium, is specifically referenced.
You could summarized it with : "Two players. Two sides. One is light. One is dark." And I haven't enjoyed a screenplay so much for a long time... probably since Bergman's masterpieces. Jones' suicidal college professor is simply named White, while his saviour, a man of faith played by Samuel L. Jackson, is called Black. I could not believe how smoothly I was emerged in the 90-minute conversation in a Washington Heights tenement! Everything was happening in the immediate aftermath of White's suicide attempt at a subway station. Many questions will tickle your mind watching this movie while enjoying the verbal tennis played between the two main characters flowing...
I'll recommend this to everyone who likes a stimulating debate- suitable for atheists, believers and agnostics!