Sundown (2021) TIFF 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5.

As if the familiar paths laid out in the summer skies could lead to both prisons and innocent dreams.

(The Outsider, Albert Camus)

With the Acapulco sun caressing his face, Neil (Tim Roth) seems to achieve nirvana. He has taken a decision and his world is about to change drastically. Sundown (2021) by Michel Franco worries us, from the subtlety an air of suspense is born that gradually lacerates us. The Mexican always finds a way to disturb us and suddenly take away our peace. His cinema explores the human soul and at the same time rigorously looks at the environment in which these beings interact.

At times it makes us feel guilty, fleeting voyeurs looking for oxygen in the lives of others. Sundown wandered through Venice to fight for the Golden Lion before reaching the Toronto International Film Festival. Franco travels well-known paths and does it at the hands of Tim Roth (600 Miles, Reservoir Dogs), one of his favorite actors. His Neil forces us to fill in the gaps to understand his character’s behavior. According to Franco, the film is a love letter to a city that brings back very good memories, but for its protagonist, that Acapulco becomes a kind of chimera.

All the money in the world

The details allow us to deduce that Neil and his family are in a privileged position and that money is not an issue. Alice (Charlotte Gainsbourg) enjoys a massage before sunbathing by the pool while a waiter brings her a margarita. They are in a small paradise, far from home, where surely the sun does not bring the same warm and the afternoons do not smell like salt water and sand. All is peace until one call upsets everything and the holidays must end abruptly. With the family making last minute arrangements to go home, Neil is unflappable, an act that seems fortuitous turns out to be the validation of a premeditated move.

Yves Cape’s camera (Holy Motors, Zombie Child) is sheltered in the face of a forceful Tim Roth. The close-ups are overwhelming, and the veteran fills us with emotions from the silences. When he speaks, he does so precisely, and the dialogues hide more than what they reveal. Everything makes sense when we understand the background and at that moment the character is magnified. With the character of Charlotte Gainsbourg, we have the opposite side, more high-sounding and with more explosive reactions to show their emotions. Likewise, Yves Cape’s camera always finds the angle to show us what words don’t tell us.

Sundown is the story of a man who confronts his destiny and during an existential crisis decides to take radical measures that change not only his world but that of everyone around him. In the background the director leaves us a speech that reveals the harsh reality of a tourist paradise that is an optical illusion and shows us the shadows that tourist pamphlets do not show. The reality of his Neil is far from that of those natives he crosses paths with, but in the purest essence the needs can coincide. The shortcomings of some are the desires of others and the abundance of others is the ambition that moves many more.

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