Parents' Guide to

Sundown

By Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Strong drama about judgment and perception; sex, drinking.

Movie R 2022 83 minutes
Sundown Movie Poster

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 18+

Based on 1 parent review

age 18+

Sundown - A Slow Burn

While not a dedicated fan of Tim Roth, he acquits himself rather well in the serious but ambiguous role of a ‘tourist’ in Acapulco, behaving very strangely. But, is it ever really right for a writer/director (Michel Franco) to deliberately keep vital details about their story and its characters from the audience - in order to make the main theme and situations more difficult to fathom? This is one of those cases where we are forced to wonder what’s driving the central characters - while being kept out of the vital loop to understand their motivations and actions. At times this device can add a mysterious element to certain stories but this one is just too meanderingly bland to qualify as a mystery per se. Still, the makers expect us to have the patience to stay with it long enough to fill in the missing pieces. Too many people read about the movies they choose to see before watching, then think they are superior for ‘working it out’, but for others who like to go in cold and let the story unfold in its own time, it’s another matter. Minimalist works such as this require more detail to allow us to connect the more outlandish sections (and there are several here) to where the story is heading. While mildly interesting and rather tragic, it’s just as well this has a shortish runtime as any more would have killed it entirely. The ending doesn’t fully deliver a complete understanding of the many peculiar prior actions, and judging from the bulk of reviews, this may not be adequate closure for many to accept, and understandably so.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (1 ):
Kids say: Not yet rated

This quietly sharp, deeply observant movie is about human nature, both the characters' and the audience's. It plays with our judgment and preconceived notions with a confident, even-handed touch. Written and directed by Michel Franco, Sundown begins almost lazily, with scenes that seem unimportant. The family members sleep in the sun, swim, float in the pool, drink cocktails, etc. They eat dinner and argue about a game and try not to look at their phones. The trick here is that Franco wants us to assume what their actual relationship is, and it's likely that most will guess wrong. It's on us to keep checking and rechecking our assumptions and how they relate to what's actually happening.

The movie's opening scenes are merely a test for what comes later. Can we retain sympathy for Neil after he's run out on his family, avoided a funeral, and shirked his duties (even after Alice specifically asked him for help)? Can we retain sympathy for him as he begins to live a life of ease and pleasure? It helps to employ Ted Lasso's "Be curious, not judgmental." Perhaps Neil is dealing with some kind of fear surrounding death or funerals? Something else? Either way, Sundown keeps viewers on their toes, with a rhythm that both relaxes and shocks. It pulses and breathes. And Roth, who's in nearly every shot, gives a bold, measured performance that's one of his best.

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