- Published: Friday, 28 January 2022 09:19
- Written by Lupe R Haas
SUNDOWN is a slow burn that works as a mystery in the sense that you don’t know the character’s motivations for his actions. SUNDOWN isn’t a particularly compelling movie starring Tim Roth but there’s intrigue into why Roth‘s character is living a carefree life in Mexico rather than returning to England with his family.
Neil (Roth) and his family are vacationing in a high-end Mexican resort. When they receive a call about a death in the family they cut their trip short, except for Neil who left his passport back at the resort so he insists his family board the plane without him and he’ll catch the next flight out.
Instead of returning to the resort, Neil checks into a two-star beach motel. His day consists of hanging out alone at the beach downing cervezas (beer) enjoying the view, and some locals chat him up including a taxi driver who befriends him but they do all the talking while he takes everything in Around him. Neil closes himself off from his prior life and ignores the incoming calls from Alice (Charlotte Gainsbourg) who we assume is his wife and the two teens are their children. Their exact relationship is never identified so all you can do is guess. SUNDOWN is full of misdirections.
From sun up to sundown, Neil goes about his day in the same way. Beach. Beer. Basking in the sun. He soon starts a sexual relationship with a local store worker and spends his days and nights with her.
For the entire length of the film, the viewer is in the dark as to Neil‘s intentions in staying in Mexico. We can assume he likes the carefree life rather than his old situation of which we have no insight. As with most Hollywood-made films, you assume director/writer Mitchell Franco will go down a familiar path in which the American will be in danger in a foreign country. And it does so in the third act which changes Neil‘s trajectory.
The viewer will have to wait until the end of the 83-minute movie to get answers to Neil‘s motivations. Then it all makes sense why Neil behaves the way he does. That is what is unique about SUNDOWN. Neil says very little throughout the film and the language barrier works in his favor in his attempt to tune out the world around him.
Franco paces the film just right with the short running time. You also needed a well-known and respected actor to keep the viewers interested in a film that lacks any action. Tim Roth is the perfect choice to play this enigmatic character who is hard to gauge.
Set in Mexico, you expect the usual stereotypes to come into play except for the director who hails from Mexico did a great job in balancing the beauty of the country with the problems that plague resort towns.
Cinematographer Yves Cape brings a grainy quality to the production using natural lighting which gives it a raw feel to the scenes. It’s a very quiet film filled with lots of background noise, but Ilike Neil you tune out the static in the same way.
SUNDOWN is an interesting and unique movie because of the mystery surrounding the main character, and once all is revealed at the end, SUNDOWN pays off.
Bleecker Street will release sundown in select theaters starting January 28.