THAT EVENING SUN Review

There are many things to love about Scott Teems' 'That Evening Sun' but what is most appealing is the divergence of character and story from a strict mold. Beginning with Hal Holbrooks Abner we have a lead character whom you neither love or hate. You dislike many of the things he does and says, but you understand him and you think he is humorous but that is mostly due to the charisma Holbrook brings to his performance. Holbrooks performance is what you've probably heard about most concerning the film and all the praise is no doubt deserved. Holbrook carries the film and has more than a few powerful scenes and stories that will stay with you after finishing the film. He fits the bitter old person role but extends his conflict past that mold and his journey is about much more than trying to reclaim his house. We all know its not about the house, its about everything that comes with it. The memories, the things that recall them, the pictures, the moments that were shared in those rooms. It is the fact that Abner wants to reclaim what has already passed in his life. He doesn't want to face what has happened, but instead return to the way things used to be, before his wife passed away. It is a hard pill to swallow, watching this man slowly expose himself for what he truly desires. Watching his hardened exterior melt with regret and confusion. Yes, Holbrook is simply wonderful. And so is his supporting cast, which includes southern gems Ray McKinnon and Walter Goggins. As Abner's rival, McKinnon is the no good piece of white trash that Abner believes him to be. He hasn't worked, drinks constantly and has a temper that results in actions we cannot forgive him for. We don't think we like him until his wife, played by Carrie Preston, makes a plea that shows how desperate she along with her husband really are. The truth is depressing, that she would give up what might have been her ideals about life to be with a man who she loves and can only sometimes get it together. McKinnon's Lonzo is an awful man, but there are redeemable qualities and so in our two leads we have the complete opposite of every other movie we see throughout the year. Neither of these men are completely right or wrong, instead they are true and complex as all characters should be. It's also a pleasure to see Mia Wasikowska taking chances with such a southern film where she couldn't be further from her comfort zone. Not only does 'That Evening Sun' give us insightful character studies and interesting story lines, but also makes use of its Tennessee location in ways that exude these people even more. It represents a way of life, a limit on what you may achieve and a comfort zone some never will or want to break out of. You can feel the heat of the summer and the noise of the bugs at night. It captures its atmosphere perfectly as well as its complex emotions that are being dealt with. This film is one that lends its strongest qualities to the forefront, making us believe that no matter what the conclusion might say, we know Abner can never let go of his past. Not the neat and clean finale that would make a bigger film, but one that fits this odd little gem perfectly. This movie truly does deserve to be seen.