Sunset Song

Sunset Song ★★★★★

Every new Terence Davies film feels like a miracle, in no small part because most of them are. Not even Terry Gilliam has had such a tough time of shepherding projects to the screen. Davies' style has alienated him to most financiers, his shame has alienated him from many queer critics and his nature has denied him the reverent mystique that clings to other auteurs who make films at the same rate — Davies has been butchered for many of the same qualities that make Terrence Malick a holy cow. He's now 70 years old, and each of his successfully completed films arrives like a merciful act of the God to whom Davies no longer speaks.

Never has that been more true than it is of "Sunset Song," which is faithful enough to Lewis Grassic Gibbon's 1932 novel of the same name that the author is granted a possessive credit in the film's opening title card. Gibbon's story has been swelling within him since he was first enraptured by the BBC miniseries adapted from it in 1971, and at least 16 years have passed since he began actively trying to make his version (a span during which the project was killed and resurrected enough times to earn the holy hush that it inspires from those who worship at the altar of this determinedly irreligious auteur). But the real miracle of "Sunset Song" is that Davies, who has suffered so much — and found so little value in his suffering — has made a movie that vividly captures the bittersweet beauty of life on earth. Davies has described Gibbon's novel as "a story which deserves to be told." Now it is a film that demands to be seen.


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