That Evening Sun (film)
|That Evening Sun|
|Directed by||Scott Teems|
|Written by||Short story:
|Music by||Michael Penn|
|Edited by||Travis Sittard|
|Distributed by||Freestyle Releasing|
|November 6, 2009|
|Box office||$281,350 (USA)|
That Evening Sun is a 2009 film based on a 2002 short story I Hate to See That Evening Sun Go Down by William Gay. The movie, produced by Dogwood Entertainment, stars Hal Holbrook as Abner Meecham and is directed by Scott Teems who also wrote the screenplay. That Evening Sun premiered in March 2009 at South By Southwest, where it received the Audience Award for Narrative Feature and a special Jury Prize for Ensemble Cast. Joe Leydon of Variety hailed it as "an exceptionally fine example of regional indie filmmaking," and praised Holbrook's performance as a "career-highlight star turn as an irascible octogenarian farmer who will not go gentle into that good night." That Evening Sun also was screened at the 2009 Nashville Film Festival, where Holbrook was honored with a special Lifetime Achievement Award, and the film itself received another Audience Award.
The film opened in limited release in November 2009, and was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on September 7, 2010.
Abner Meecham (Hal Holbrook), an aging Tennessee farmer discarded at a nursing facility by his lawyer son, flees the old folks home and catches a ride back to his country farm to live out his days in peace. Upon his return, he discovers that his son (Walton Goggins) has leased the farm to an old enemy and his family. Not one to suffer fools or go down easy, Abner moves into the old tenant shack on the property and declares that he will not leave until the farm is returned to his possession. But Lonzo Choat (Ray McKinnon), the new tenant, has no intention to move out or give in to the demands of the old man.
Abner catches Lonzo beating his daughter (Mia Wasikowska) with a garden hose after she was caught returning from dating a forbidden boy, and Abner scares Lonzo off by shooting a pistol in Lonzo's direction. The next day Abner has Lonzo picked up by the police, and Lonzo's wife Ludie (Carrie Preston) is upset that she has to pay for bail, which they cannot afford. When the Choats come back from town, Lonzo is visibly upset, and murders Abner's dog Nipper and hangs him from the porch of the tenant shack. Abner disappears for two days, and the Choats suspect he has finally given up. Instead, he returns with Nipper's stuffed corpse, and sets him on the front porch and tells it to stand guard. Abner and Lonzo get into an arguing match in which Lonzo threatens to burn the shack down with Abner inside. The argument culminates with Abner pointing a pistol at Lonzo, but Lonzo easily disarms Abner. The police are summoned the next day, and Abner is forced to move out, partially by his son, who believes he has lost his mind. Abner admits defeat and says he'll move out by the next morning. Instead he tells his neighbor (Barry Corbin) that Lonzo has threatened to kill him by burning the shack. Abner, haunted by recurring dreams of his long-dead wife (Dixie Carter) then sets the shack ablaze, but stumbles while trying to exit, and he is rescued by Lonzo.
When Abner awakes, he is in the hospital with his son by his side. He accepts that he will move into a retirement community, but insists that he will plant corn in his small garden there, instead of tomatoes as his son suggested. In the final scene Abner visits his house one more time; the house has been vacated by the Choats.
That Evening Sun has received mostly positive reviews from critics. The film holds a 75 on Metacritic, indicating Generally favorable reviews. Joe Leydon of Variety called the film a; "Deliberately paced, richly atmospheric drama (that) also boasts first-rate work by a splendid supporting cast and impressive production values." Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three and a half stars out of four, and called the film "...a drama set on a Tennessee farm that begins by looking like your standard old codger story and turns out, as Clint Eastwood's Gran Torino did, to be a lot more."
- 2006 IFP Market Award - Emerging Narrative Screenplay Award
- 2009 Little Rock Film Festival - Best Narrative Feature Award
- 2009 South by Southwest - Narrative Feature Audience Award
- 2009 South by Southwest - Special Jury Award for Best Ensemble Cast
- 2009 Sarasota Film Festival - Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature
- 2009 Atlanta Film Festival - Jury Award for Best Narrative
- 2009 Nashville Film Festival - Official Selection; Audience Award; Lifetime Achievement Award (Hal Holbrook); Governor's Award (Dixie Carter)
- 2009 Memphis Indie Film Festival - Jury Award for Best Narrative Feature
- 2009 Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival - Best Director
- 2009 Newport International Film Festival - Special Narrative Feature Jury Prize; Student Jury Narrative Grand Prize
- 2009 Southeastern Film Critics Association Awards - Wyatt Award (awarded to a film that the captures the spirit of the South)
- 2009 Independent Spirit Awards 2009 - Nominated - Best Supporting Female - Mia Wasikowska; Best Supporting Male - Ray McKinnon
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