Sunset Song screens on Friday, March 18 and Saturday, March 19. For additional ticketing information, please refer to the Gene Siskel Film Center website here.
When it comes to Terence Davies, I have more or less engaged with his work from a distance, often admiring the form of his films but never quite penetrating their icy surfaces. The Long Day Closes stood as the single outlier to that rule. Well, that was until Sunset Song which may very well be his best film to date.
Exquisitely composed with a rigid attention to detail (as is the case for all of Davies work), what makes Sunset Song so remarkable is that amid the decadently constructed frames resonates an emotional center that motivates all of the picture’s actions. It’s purely visceral, in what’s a film structured around Chris’ (Agyness Deyn) coming of age in Scotland during the early 1900s. Adapted from Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s novel of the same name, Davies’ contains the sweeping melodrama to Chris, where her ascent from adolescence to adulthood is rife with paternal abuse and death, matrimonial bliss and despair. Davies clearly unites the melodramatic discord that Chris experiences with the land she tills; the two absorbing the punishment of its inhabitants while resolutely enduring. And much like John Ford’s How Green is My Valley, the steady accumulation of details that unite the land with its inhabitants reveals something of cosmic significance. Gorgeously photographed by Michael McDonough, Sunset Song is Davies’ magnum opus, a singular work of purity and sincerity.