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I had the privilege of seeing That Evening Sun last night at the Atlanta Film Festival. Scott Teems, Terrence Berry, Laura Smith, Ray McKinnon, Walton Goggins, and Larsen Jay were all in attendance and conducted an excellent Q&A afterwords.
There's so much to this film, so I'll start with the acting and go from there. The movie was so perfectly cast, from Hal Holbrook to Ray McKinnon all the way down to Barlow Jacobs the cab driver - they all were so authentic and believable. There was a lot of very good dialog, but I felt in the moments of quiet grief, contemplation, and observation there was so much more said about the characters.
The story itself was very simple - it had no effect on the world outside of the few characters involved - but again it made the whole situation believable and really struck home with a lot of audience members. The movie is very smart - it doesn't hit you over the head with actors stating "I feel remorse, I feel sad, I feel angry." You get to watch their actions in the present reveal their character and past.
Location was perfectly southern, shot just outside of Knoxville on an old farm, complete with the tenant house seen (although the Q&A explained the actual tenant house was disassembled and rebuilt closer to the main house). There is something about truly southern movies that have a feel like no other with a landscape and sound you can't find in Canada, New Zealand, or LA.
The music, done by Michael Penn and the Drive-By Truckers, completed the whole picture with a quiet southern flavor. Scott Teems explained in the Q&A that he wanted a lot of quiet time for the audience to absorb the story and the location. The music was present, but didn't drive scenes.
All in all, this is one of the best independent films I've seen in recent years, and is instantly one of my favorite films of all time. Please go see this film, you will not regret the time spent!
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