For this week’s Indie Corner we’ll be taking a look at a straight-to-TV HBO film called The Sunset Limited. Make no mistake, this is a play. You may be watching it all unfold on a screen, but it is a play.
Based on the play/novel by Cormac McCarthy (author of such grim novels as No Country for Old Men and The Road), The Sunset Limited is a conversation between two men, in one room. That’s it. The two men, designated Black and White, are portrayed by heavyweights Samuel L. Jackson and Tommy Lee Jones (who also directs), and boy, do they act. There are no action scenes. They argue, but they don’t fight. There is not one CGI shot, not a single gun, and the most violent scene in the film comes when Black tells White a jailhouse story. See, Black is an ex-convict turned evangelical Christian who, moments before the film begins, saved White, a nihilistic professor, from jumping in front of a train. Then they talk.
It’s a film that hinges entirely on the performances of its two leads. Watching the two titans clash over issues of mortality, religion, man’s place in the world and whether anything is really worth a damn, is more thrilling than any amount of digital robots beating the shit out of each other Michael Bay can throw at you. Why? Because it has substance.
If you want to watch a movie that, unlike many films coming out today, actually has something to say, I suggest you give The Sunset Limited a try.
“Belief ‘aint like unbelief. If you’re a believer and you finally got to come to the well of belief itself , then you ‘aint got to look no further. There ‘aint no further. But the unbelievers got a problem. He’s set out to unravel the world. For everything he can point to that ‘aint true, he leaves two false things laying there.”