The Sunset Limited (2011)

I don’t believe in God. Can you understand that? Look around you, man. Can’t you see? The clamour and din of those in torment has to be the sound most pleasing to his ear.

— White

I was mildly interested in seeing The Sunset Limited when it came on HBO a couple of weeks. When I first saw the film, I fell asleep halfway through it. I thought maybe it was that I was tired. Looking at the film again, I almost fell asleep again. The movie was very dry.

Based on the play by famed author, Cormac McCarthy adapted it to become a television movie directed by Tommy Lee Jones. The main thrust of the movie is about an ex-con, Mr. Black (Samuel L. Jackson) saving a philosophy professor, Mr. White (Tommy Lee Jones) from being a Jackson Pollack painting on a subway car called “The Sunset Limited.” The whole movie is taking place at Mr. Black’s rundown apartment where he is trying to dissect why would an educated man wanted to end his life.

It was a verbal chess match with the two opposing forces trying to get to the checkmate. Mr. Black is the spiritual man trying to find the good in people where Mr. White sees nothing but darkness. Mr. Black wants to save Mr. White from doing the same thing again the next day by having a lengthy discussion with him about faith, the human condition and man’s existence in the world.

I understand the intention of what Cormac McCarthy was trying to do. The eternal debate of nihilism and blind faith. Black and white. Light and darkness. He tries to turn traditional images of this on its head. Have the “white” character be filled with darkness and have the “black” character be very hopeful about life and God. I do not believe that a philosophy professor would have an existential conversation on a deep level with an ex-con.

Besides, I thought Jackson blow Jones out of the water. I felt like a play being filmed. Is this a knock on Tommy Lee Jones as the director? Yes. I was bored by the end of the movie. There were some moments of brilliance in the movie but it was too few and far between.

Judgment: What was the point of the movie, to advocate atheism?

Rating: 5.5/10

About Branden

Branden: I am just your average movie nut that reviews films. Gives his take on pop culture and Hollywood happenings. Dreams to have his own thriving website and make a living doing what he is passionate about.

Posted on March 1, 2011, in 2011, Drama, Television and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Shame, I was looking forward to this. I’ll give anything that has McCarthy’s name on it a go and the two actors have got me interested but I can see where you’re coming from: I’m sceptical about whether I’ll be able to last the full ninety minutes if it doesn’t grab me straight away.

    • I tried to give the movie the benefit of the doubt with seeing the movie again. It didn’t grab me. It falls into the trap of Oleanna. Having two people onscreen with a meh story would ruin it.

  2. I thought that this film was a nice debate on the truth of where our faith lies, and both actors do great jobs with this material. But it just feels like a play, and sometimes that works, here, not so much. Good Review!

  3. It is true, but I think that TLJ took a straight forward approach with the direction. It wasn’t exciting to watch, to keep me engaged by any means.

  4. you felt like a play being filmed?

  5. I liked it. Not everything has to resolve. I think that’s the point … there will always be opposing philosophies … no clear winner. There is black and there is white and thankfully in this case, having nothing to do with race. The dialogue does make you think and the acting was wonderful.

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