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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

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