Around the Sun

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
Around the Sun Movie Poster Image
Quirky romantic drama has some cursing.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 78 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Many good things start with a conversation.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Two people are unusually frank with each other upon first meeting, thus seeming a bit odd, but also fearless.

Violence

A man recalls his father's descent into alcoholism. A woman describes a disappointing relationship.

Sex

Two strangers are clearly attracted to each other when they first meet.

Language

"F--k," "s--t," and "d--k."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink alcohol. Alcoholism of a family member is discussed.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Around the Sun is in essence a conversation between a real estate agent and a man who may be a movie location scout, or something else entirely, as they meet presumably to tour a Normandy chateau falling into disrepair. Their far-flung discussions include a shared enthusiasm for an obscure old philosophy book as well as tales of failed relationships and the place of humans in the universe. Language includes "f--k" and "s--t," and adults drink alcohol. A man recalls his father's descent into alcoholism.

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What's the story?

In AROUND THE SUN, Maggie (Cara Theobold) seems to be a real estate agent showing a rundown chateau in France to Bernard (Gethin Anthony), an English movie location scout. But immediately, that given is challenged: The movie abruptly starts again and reintroduces the characters. Bernard is now a tech company exec looking for new headquarters. Unprompted, Maggie is soon eloquently praising a favorite book written at the chateau in the 17th century by Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle, a mathematician and philosopher who discussed his theories of a "plurality of worlds" with the chateau's mistress, a charming marquise who longed for intellectual discourse. Occasionally, Maggie and Bernard appear in 17th century costume as those characters, discussing Fontenelle's theories and flirting. Bringing us back to Fontenelle's idea, different "worlds" are presented. In one, Bernard has a difficult marriage and faces the texted news that his wife is pregnant. In another version, he's divorced and available to take up with Maggie, and he too is enamored of the obscure work of Fontenelle. Where will these characters go from here?

Is it any good?

This is a unique film, peculiarly likable, but never answering the reasonable question "Why was this made?" Other questions include, "Why did Around the Sun start at least three different times, with different, confusing, and contradictory dialogue and circumstances each time?" We are left to wonder if anything we experience is real, or if everything is random and unfixed. Was there a pregnancy test? Is he married or divorced? Is he a movie location scout, or a tech guy looking for new headquarters?  Or is he a 17th century French philosopher and mathematician? This deliberate uncertainty approach references the physicist Heisenberg's principle, but otherwise just makes the narrative unnecessarily confusing.

Although it feels good to know that people are still making thought-provoking movies, and even though the stimulating conversations cover both our understanding of Copernican astronomy and why we need love, dramatically we are never really invited into this story deeply enough to enjoy it. Still, the right teen will find lots to ponder and discuss here.

 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Around the Sun starts over several times. What do you think it adds to our understanding of the characters when the writer and director tell us different stories about the same people?

  • Does it seem likely that two strangers would speak as openly to each other about private details as presented here? Does it make the movie more compelling, or less?

  • Do you think experiments in filmmaking are worthwhile? Does this one succeed?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love romance and drama

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