In early 18th century England, a frail Queen Anne (Colman) occupies the throne and her close friend Lady Sarah (Weisz) governs the country in her stead. When a new servant Abigail (Stone) arrives, her charm endears her to Sarah.
Set in 1825, Clare, a young Irish convict woman, chases a British officer through the rugged Tasmanian wilderness, bent on revenge for a terrible act of violence he committed against her family. On the way she enlists the services of an Aboriginal tracker named Billy, who is also marked by trauma from his own violence-filled past.
With Italy about to go to war in 1914, this's the story of the encounter between a goatherd called Lucia, the commune of young Northern Europeans led by Seybu and the town's young doctor on the unique island of Capri.
Reinout Scholten van Aschat,
Set during the tumultuous mid-19th century Edo period of Japan Killing is the story of a masterless samurai or ronin named Ikematsu Sosuke. As the prevalent peace and tranquility are sure ... See full summary »
1913, Budapest, in the heart of Europe. The young Irisz Leiter arrives in the Hungarian capital with high hopes to work as a milliner at the legendary hat store that belonged to her late parents. She is nonetheless sent away by the new owner, Oszkár Brill. While preparations are under way at the Leiter hat store, to host guests of uttermost importance, a man abruptly comes to Irisz, looking for a certain Kálmán Leiter. Refusing to leave the city, the young woman follows Kálmán's tracks, her only link to a lost past. Her quest brings her through the dark streets of Budapest, where only the Leiter hat store shines, into the turmoil of a civilization on the eve of its downfall.
Sunset, just as Son of Saul, is a hard pill to swallow. It uses a similar visual technique and style as Nemes' debut film, it is very slow, it doesn't have a crystal-clear interpretation. Nevertheless, it is an expression of cinema as a form of art.
Seeing Sunset clarifies which are the recurring elements of Nemes' style, and which were specific to his debut film. Do not expect to see any wide scenery shot of late-Belle Epoque Budapest. During much of the film there are mainly close ups of the lead character, and the surrounding action is left out of focus, except when the lead looks at something, thus maintaining his point of view throughout most of the film. Photography is stunning throughout the film, there are several clever uses of windows, focus, composition (an example being the shot of the lead, Irisz, sitting in a stagecoach with the outside road visible on the left of the screen that you can see here on imdb) and many long takes.
There is little dialogue throughout the film (and I'd say that 1/3 of it is various characters telling the lead she should leave), and the plot is very confusing because of that: much of the backstory is intentionally omitted or just mentioned, so that some motives of the conflict between various characters remain concealed.
The film is set in 1913 not because of historical events (everything that happens in the film is fiction) but for allegorical reasons: the film's subject is the end of an era in European history, the beginning of a period of bloodshed, and also the downfall of the Imperial regimes that were led by nobility. During all of this, Irisz stoically (much like Saul did in Nemes' previous work) witnesses the decline of his age around him, almost as if she herself is an allegory of Europe. The gorgeous final sequence of the film seems to confirm this interpretation.
I wouldn't say that the acting performances are particularly relevant, as many characters stoically deliver their few lines of dialogue, however this does not detract from the film's overall quality.
Sunset may not be Oscar-nomination worthy (then again, who knows?), but it is definitely a compelling film that is very European in taste, quality and artistic value.
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