The Sunset Limited (2011)

If you’re like me, you did not know that Pulitizer Prize-winning author Cormac McCarthy (of The Road and No Country for Old Men fame) wrote a play called The Sunset Limited.  I’m not entirely sure who performed in it onstage, but this here is an HBO movie directed by Tommy Lee Jones.  Jones also co-stars with Samuel L. Jackson in what may be one of the most minimalist films ever filmed.  It could get more minimalist I suppose, perhaps just a picture of each of their faces with them reading the play.  Nobody do that.

Jones is White, and Jackson is Black, both literally and in the characters they play.  Black is a religious man, believing in God Almighty and such, while White is an atheist professor.  One morning, Black stops White from jumping in front of The Sunset Limited (a passenger train that runs from New Orleans to Los Angeles apparently).  Black’s desperate to turn White’s life around, and so begins a lengthy conversation about their respective lives, beliefs, hopes, dreams and more, all taking place in Black’s shithole apartment.

There’s not much to say about the direction, as it appears to be shot in much the same way one would view a play: the two characters conversing across a table, occasionally moving about, then returning to centre stage.  The acting is solid, the writing solid, and at times the movie is genuinely engaging.  I suppose your enjoyment of the film is dependent on how much you enjoy religious discussion, and since I’m solidly in White’s camp, I recognised Black’s passion, but I was bored by it.

3 / 5

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About SkoochXC
Long-time blogger, Canadian, cine-snark-aphile, Tweeter and generally lonely hearted guy.

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