Sunset Song

The United Kingdom submitted this entry to the 2016 Seattle International Film Festival. This highly acclaimed film takes place in Scotland and yes! It has closed captions. Writer/director Terence Davies ("House of Mirth") based his screenplay on Lewis Grassic Gibbon's 1932 novel by the same name.

With a muted canvas and notably long single-take, highly emotional scenes, we look at six years in the life of a peasant farm family before and just after the carnage of World War I. Life was hard, particularly for the women, who had no control over their lives.

  • Agyness Deyn ("Hail, Caesar!") is Chris Guthrie, a studious young woman who wants to become a school teacher. Her father is a despot, her mother is a slave and her life doesn't turn out like she expects. This actress does a spectacular job!
  • Peter Mullan ("Olive Kitteridge") is her father John Guthrie. He never allows anyone to question his authority, he just wields it! Any time he is on screen, we hold our breath because we know he can be arbitrary and cruel with no warning.
  • Kevin Guthrie (Lots of TV) Ewan Tavendale falls for Chris the moment he lays eyes on her. World War I upsets their idyllic life together.
  • Jack Greenlees ("Penny Dreadful") is her brother Will. Even as a grown man, he still yields to his father's authority and submits to a whipping on command.
The period detail is impressive: the clothes they wear, the interior of the house, and the tools they use, are all authentic. The pace is glacial, but I don't think I would want it any other way. I had a big problem with the wheat field though. In every scene, regardless of what time of year is depicted, the wheat is ripe, fully bearded, and ready for harvest. Aarghhh!