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film review

Juli Jakab in Sunset.Sony Pictures Classics / Mongrel

  • Sunset
  • Directed by: Laszlo Nemes
  • Written by: Laszlo Nemes and Clara Royer
  • Starring: Juli Jakab, Vlad Ivanov and Evelin Dobos
  • Classification: 14A; 144 minutes

Rating:

2 out of 4 stars

If cinema is a medium built on the tension between form and content, then Hungarian filmmaker Laszlo Nemes has firmly chosen a side. As displayed in his 2016 Oscar-winning Holocaust drama Son of Saul – which was shot with an extremely limited focus designed to limit the audience’s view of a concentration camp to the main character’s perspective, from behind – the director is solely, obsessively interested in how we view the world, rather than what might actually be going on in that world.

Nemes’s follow-up, Sunset, is not as ethically problematic as Son of Saul, but it falls prey to a similar sort of cinematic narrowness. Set in 1913, the film follows a young woman (Juli Jakab) in Budapest who falls deeply into a family mystery – one whose structure feels as unfocused as Nemes’s camera is steady, almost hyperbolically steady and confident. Perhaps Nemes was hoping to let the precision of his intricately staged images artfully clash with the absurdity of a chaotic plot. But the result is more tedious than tense.

Sunset opens April 5 in Toronto and Vancouver