In 2007, a movie named Sunshine slipped past me with little ado. Having just watched it – and let me state this unequivocally – I would classify Sunshine as one of the best movies I’ve seen in the last 10 years and one of only a small handful that I wanted to watch again immediately after it finished.
Sunshine stars, among others, Cillian Murphy, Chris Evans, Michelle Yeoh, Rose Byrne, and Mark Strong as members of a mission sent to restart our dying sun. If you smirk at Sunshine‘s setup one more time, I’ll slap that smirk off your face and send you to bed without dinner. From across the internet. Yes; there’s a stench emanating from Sunshine‘s premise that smells alarmingly similar to The Core but I assure you, the premise of this movie is irrelevant. The premise serves only to isolate the crew in a very dangerous and inhospitable place. The acting and the masterful story telling are the thing. Sunshine is a genuinely good movie with believable characters and no manufactured melodrama. It doesn’t rely on a soundtrack by Aerosmith and cheesy montages to lend gravity to character deaths. It doesn’t need to. The barely contained emotion conveyed by the cast of Sunshine lends each event all the gravity it needs. Contained because these are professionals chosen expressly for their capacity to execute a very specific responsibility but barely so because they are still humans bearing an impossible burden.
So why was Sunshine largely ignored? In a word, flavor. Sunshine expresses itself much more like an art film than your typical Hollywood sci-fi/thriller. The pacing and writing challenge what we’ve become accustomed to for a film of this genre, making it very easy for someone to issue a premature “tl:dr”* and move on. Understand, I’m not saying that Sunshine has returned to <sarcasm> the golden age of movie pacing from the ’70s</sarcasm>. I’m saying that Sunshine recognizes that you can use negative space to express details that do not then need to be manhandled by the writer and thrust upon the unsuspecting head and shoulders of the viewer though dialogue that might as well start with, “in case you’re too stupid to figure out what you just saw”. It embraces the idea that pictures really can speak a thousand words and that some times “show me” works better than “tell me”. Sunshine even challenges the boundaries of its genre through judicious use of obscuring visual effects that *GASP* actually leave something to the imagination.
Really, get your hands on Sunshine and watch it. I can’t promise you’ll come out the other end as enthusiastic as I am but I’m fairly certain you won’t walk away wanting 107 minutes of your life back.
*too long, don’t read