Road movie + film noir u hipnotičkom stilu Terencea Malicka.
Boje se penju uzbrdo, osjećaji nizbrdo.
Written and directed by acclaimed actress/filmmaker Amy Seimetz (Tiny Furniture and Sundance 2013 films: Upstream Color and Pit Stop), Sun Don't Shine follows Crystal (Kate Lyn Sheil) and her boyfriend Leo (Kentucker Audley) on a tense and mysterious road trip through the desolate yet hauntingly beautiful landscape of central Florida. From the outset, the purpose of their journey is unclear, and the motivations behind their heated altercations and shady errands are hazy, but sporadic moments of tenderness illuminate the loving bond between the two that exists underneath their overt tensions. As the couple travels up the Gulf Coast past an endless panorama of mangrove fields, trailer parks, and cookie-cutter housing developments, the disturbing details of their excursion gradually begin to emerge, revealing Crystal’s sinister past and the couple’s troubling future. Filmed on location in the environs of Seimetz’s hometown of St. Petersburg, Florida, Sun Don't Shine is a subtly cryptic story driven by the powerful performances of its lead actors and its eerily poetic setting.
The employment of non-linear, disconnected voiceover has been so thoroughly bound up with the films of Terrence Malick for such a long time that the first reaction of most upon hearing it used by people other than Terence Malick is usually to accuse its user of plagiarism (of style, at the very least). Amy Seimetz, no doubt fully aware of the baggage that this technique comes bundled with, uses it so well that any and all similarities to its revered master quickly recede, allowing us to appreciate just how effective it becomes in her capable hands. This has been a pretty good year for Seimetz, who’s probably going to be most well known for co-starring in Shane Carruth’s Upstream Color. Although, to me anyway, this work will be able to stand well enough on its own.
We meet Crystal (Kate Lyn Sheil) and Leo (Kentucker Audley) in the middle of a fight in the middle of a mud puddle in the middle of nowhere in Southern Florida. The ferocity and unpredictability of Crystal is pretty well established by the time the opening credits start to roll, Ms. Sheil excellently imbuing her character with the air of a trapped animal. Leo, on the other hand, presents himself to us as almost totally passive, grief-stricken, and resigned. The two are on the lam, heading South to the Everglades in a barely functioning sedan and generally not getting along that well. It’s fairly obvious that, aside from any sensational criminal naughtiness involved, Seimetz is chiefly interested in exploring the way these two characters act toward each other while under duress.
Another element of this film that draws ready comparison to Malick (although by no means is it primarily his domain) is the use of nature as a character. The washed out, sun-bleached and generally gritty environment of Florida is as much a driving force in the action of the film as the two frantic leads. We’re treated to a smattering of sometimes lengthy, rhapsodic shots of the open road and the strangely empty looks on Crystal and Leo’s faces while the previously mentioned voiceovers slowly coalesce into a discernible narrative. The timing at play here is crucial, as Seimetz only makes things clear when she feels they matter.
The dreamlike quality of many of Sun Don’t Shine’s scenes provides a stark contrast to the utterly grotesque vagaries of which its two troubled main characters are capable. One particularly otherworldly moment of calm is furnished by Crystal’s unlawful entry into an underwater retelling of The Little Mermaid care of some uncannily offputting mermaids at a ramshackle theme park just off the highway, deftly intercut with some truly ghastly shit Leo’s getting into down the river. Crystal and Leo’s unsavory activities may provide the framework upon which Seimetz builds her laconic and meandering tale, but it’s their interaction that allows it to truly fly.
Amy Seimetz has crafted something truly beautiful and tonally intriguing with this film. Managing to hold together a story with as few direct instances of dialogue as possible is no mean feat, and the attempt often lends itself to ruin and self-parody. If her debut is any indication, we can look forward to a challenging new voice in contemporary American cinema. And, with the backing of someone like Shane Carruth, who produced Sun Don’t Shine, she just might have the wherewithal to craft a decent number of these inventive and refreshing films. - Paul Bower
In this wondrously accomplished and furiously expressive drama blending the moody rambles of a road movie with the tightly ratcheted criminal tension of a film noir the director Amy Seimetz, in her first feature, captures the wildly flailing energy and exhausted torpor of grinding frustration as well as the flickering grace of stifled dreams. Her protagonists, Crystal (Kate Lyn Sheil) and Leo (Kentucker Audley), are classic young lovers on the run, driving through rural Florida with a body in the trunk of their car, but violence, fear, and distrust poison their romance from the movie’s very start, and things only get worse as they head toward St. Petersburg, where Leo hopes to get help from a former girlfriend (Kit Gwin). Sheil and Audley give performances of harrowing power, their incarnations of blind tenderness and fierce desire building to outbursts of feral rage. Filming her actors with a subcutaneous intimacy and the landscape (her home turf) with a nuanced eye, Seimetz balances a meticulous attention to practical menace with the eruptive force of her characters’ inner lives; surprising voice-overs and dreamlike, hyperdetailed images plunge the story into a vortex of expressionistic subjectivity. The action concludes with one of the great last lines of recent times. - Richard Brody
Intense physicality defines Kate Lyn Sheil’s volcanic lead performance in Sun Don’t Shine, the grimy, feature-length directorial debut of Upstream Color star Amy Seimetz. (Upstream Color writer-director-star Shane Carruth executive-produced here.) Sheil acts with her entire expressive body, and throws her trembling soul into the bargain, too. Lending her troubled woman-child complete emotional transparency, she’s a sentient raw nerve too fragile for the rough, violent world she inhabits.
An arthouse twist on hardboiled convention, Sun Don’t Shine casts Sheil as an abused wife who heads to the Everglades with her electrician lover (Kentucker Audley) to dump the corpse of her abusive husband in the swamp, far from prying eyes. When Audley visits an ex-lover in search of an alibi, Sheil explodes with jealous rage, lashing out at anything that might harm the potent yet mercurial bond she shares with him.
Like Upstream Color, Sun Don’t Shine owes a sizable debt to the philosophical lyricism of Terrence Malick. Working wonders on a tight budget, Seimetz uses handheld cameras and tight compositions to create an air of claustrophobic intensity interspersed with moments of ragged beauty. Sun Don’t Shine’s elemental plot—it doesn’t get much more basic than two lovers, a car, a corpse, and a fuzzy plan to get out of one hell of a jam—unfolds in such enigmatic, elliptical bursts that it can be easy to forget the film is a noir, not just another artily shot independent film about overly intense people yelling at each other. Sun Don’t Shine can be shrill and grating in its highest registers. But at its best, Seimetz’s audacious, assured, brilliantly acted take on neo-noir has the hypnotic quality of a waking dream. - Nathan Rabin
Exclusive Interview: Amy Seimetz on Sun Don’t Shine
Amy Seimetz discusses her feature directorial debut Sun Don’t Shine, starring in the acclaimed Upstream Color, and her role on AMC’s “The Killing.”
Amy Seimetz’s performances have moved me in films like Upstream Color and A Horrible Way to Die. Now I got to experience her as a filmmaker. I missed Sun Don’t Shine at SXSW in 2012, so getting to see it as it is released this week was a win-win for me, loving festival films and a particular artist’s work. In the film, Kate Lyn Sheil plays a woman on a road trip with a boyfriend who just dumped her. She freaks out big time and as they travel she vacillates between vulnerable and volatile. Oh yeah, they’ve got a dead body in the trunk too. On the phone, Seimetz was endearingly giggly, like talking about film was just a jolly good time, which it is. We dug deep into it but never lost sight of the joy of cinema.
CraveOnline: I will ask you my one Sun Don’t Shine joke question and get it out of the way. If someone gives you a bad review, will you tell them to stick it where the sun don’t shine?
Amy Seimetz: No, I thought that there would be a lot more people using that when they didn’t like the movie. [Laughs] But no, I’d just go straight to using a curse word in my style.
Well, thank you for humoring me. Have you gotten a lot of those jokes?
That’s the thing. I was aware of the play on that. I was aware of [the phrase] “where the sun don’t shine,” that funny aspect of it. You know that old blues song “In the Pines?” People usually know it because Nirvana covered it. “In the pines, in the pines, where the sun don’t shine.” [sic] So that’s where it comes from.
So you own it.
Yes, it’s mine now.
What was the process of mounting your first feature?
I feel like it’s all a big tangled yarn ball in my head right now. This isn’t the first film I’ve ever made.
Right, I knew you’d made shorts.
Right, but I’d made an experimental feature before. So I was accustomed to shooting and planning something on a longer term as opposed to a short, but this was my first narrative feature, yes.
I was thinking of going from acting and shorts to directing a feature, but is your experimental feature available? Can we see it?
No one’s really seen it. I didn’t release it. It’s not a narrative. It’s not indicative of anything that I am moving towards so I don’t know. Maybe later I’ll release it but I’m not really interested in digging up my old work so that people can see what my old work was like. I want to put new stuff out there. I had never stopped directing stuff. I didn’t take time off to act. It wasn’t a back and forth. I started as a filmmaker and continued to do films. Sun Don’t Shine was sort of the natural next step to playing with narrative I guess.
How do you mean playing with narrative? In terms of revealing plot along the way, or in terms of what we might expect from a relationship movie?
I was more interested in using the narrative to explore tones and moods in a toxic relationship, and to hold the audience’s attention with sort of a plot within a plot. You’ve got to do something with a body so that’s the through line, that’s the linear through line, that’s the straight line, but going off on tangents that still come back and intersect that through line.
Could Kate Lyn just cry all day?
Can she? I don’t know. I feel like she’s definitely got the ability to do it on command.
She certainly cries a lot.
Yeah, she does, in the movie. She’s incredible. She’s a really unassuming and very quiet and demure woman when you meet her, and she’s very shy. So watching her play Crystal is really insane for people that know her, because she’s just completely explosive. We wanted her to be that way. We wanted her to be this live wire. The credit goes to her because her performance, what I think is the most alluring about it and the tenor we wanted to hit is that she’s completely unpredictable and that is terrifying. That’s a terrifying person to be around, when they’re completely unpredictable and they’re playing by their own games and you’re not really sure what games they’re playing, what rules they’re playing by. At the same time, I feel a deep sympathy for her because she’s incredibly wounded and she just is so not self-aware of how to control these emotions but she wants so desperately to be loved.
What do you think is the next step of exploring narrative in your films?
That’s my secret to be had until the next film is made. I guess I continue to be more interested in tone and mood and emotion than I am making a plot twister. Those are textures that I’m more interested in exploring. It’s hard to talk about. I like to be excited about my ideas and the only way to be excited about them is if you kind of keep them a secret and you don’t have to talk about them over and over. But I’ve been coming up with the visual aspects and the sonic aspects of the next film along with some of the tones that I want to hit. I have a through line that I want to use but that through line is dependent upon all the tones. The tone and the mood come first for me, and then I find the through line, the plot line because to me, there’s really only a few plots that you can throw into a movie. There’s only a few stories you can really tell.
That’s the old expression. There’s only seven stories.
Right, exactly. And so really I just have to choose one of seven and make whatever movie I’m going to make.
Was Upstream Color right up your alley, mixing tone and mood with the plot Shane Carruth wanted to tell?
Yeah, I connected deeply to his script. It was a really ambitious script and I responded on a very emotional level to what was written even though it seemingly is not very direct. It’s a very visceral movie. So yeah, we had an understanding or we clicked on this level where we understood what was important for storytelling and how to get there. My whole job on that film was to tell an emotional story, as I was acting, so therefore when I clicked with it emotionally it made sense that I felt like I could tell it in a performance, or an emotional way.
My favorite part of your performance was this facial tic you have when you’re under the spell of the worms and you’re working on the assignments. Do you know what I’m referring to?
Tongue on the side?
Yes! How did you come up with that?
We wanted her to revert into a childlike place. I don’t remember, I just know that I was watching kids color because they always stick their tongue out the side of their mouths. I find that really sweet, so that whole portion of it was reverting back into a childlike but also dependent state, not knowing the world and being told what the world is. The only other reference point for that is being a kid and being dependent on this authority figure, this godlike figure telling you how to experience the world and how to see the world.
It was a very small part of the film that Kris was a film editor, but did you know a lot about editing from being a director yourself?
Oh yeah, I edit all my own stuff.
I kind of don’t understand how a director can let anyone else edit their film, although there are obviously some great collaborations out there.
Yeah, I know some really fantastic editors but I think for certain kinds of cinema, or the way that I feel connected to my work, I love doing the first cut, the actual hard work, assembling and getting familiar with my footage and figuring out what it is that I have and then getting to a place where I feel like there’s a heart there that I want to tell. Like the story heart is there, or the mood and the tone is there. Then I don’t mind bringing somebody on when I can’t see clearly. You get to a certain point where you start to be a little forgiving about certain elements of the edit, and I feel like for me personally, because everyone has their own process, it’s nice to have somebody come on and finesse stuff that needs finessing. Then you go back and you do your final finesse. I had David Lowry come on and do my finessing I guess, the fine cut of the movie.
Have you ever edited on film with Steenbecks and Moviolas?
I did. That’s how I learned. I did. That’s how I learned how to edit and I feel like it was very beneficial to the process of editing because you take every edit very seriously. And when you’re shooting the movie, you’re thinking about editing the movie and you’re thinking about beats that are going to cut together, because when you’re editing on a Steenbeck, you only have one cut when you’re editing your negative, and you better know that that’s going to cut together, and sometimes it doesn’t. That’s how I learned.
I hope they still teach that in film schools because I got that experience too.
Yeah, I don’t think that they do.
No, they don’t. I was the last class before they switched to Avid.
Where were you?
I went to Ithaca College. I actually was in the same screenwriting class as Simon Barrett.
And I really liked your performance in A Horrible Way to Die, which he wrote. I sort of wished there were no killer plot because I was so into this realistic portrayal of addiction recovery.
That’s funny, because I don’t really see that movie as a horror movie, a gorefest. All my stuff is the character stuff. Even with AJ [Bowen] and Joe [Swanberg] and me, it’s just this woman trying to get over what it would be like to get over somebody that was a serial killer.
And I’ve known people dealing with alcoholism. There are obvious parallels in support groups. It seemed so raw and honest, how did you get there?
I have a lot of friends and family that have struggled with it their whole lives, and watched it tear everything up, but also there were some interesting elements to it that we discussed as well, which is to say that there’s different phases of getting sober. One of them is that once you get sober, you feel like you’ve solved every single problem in your life. Sometimes people forget that now that you’re sober, you’re actually able to deal with things that are deeper instead of masking the problem. So we were talking about that, that sometimes the words that you’re saying in AA, you’re just saying them as a process to get to a place where it becomes a pattern. Then all that stuff trickles in and starts to sink in and it becomes one day at a time, that motto. So in the film, I was talking about how I think she’s in that phase where she’s just still saying the words and going through it and she wasn’t really ready to share yet or process everything. So when she’d talk about it, it would feel incredibly difficult to talk about.
Are you going to be on “The Killing” this season?
What can you say about your character?
I am playing a mother who’s strapped financially and in a tough spot in life, and her daughter goes missing. That is all I can talk about.
Is that a character from the Danish series too?
You know what? I’m not quite sure. I’ve only watched one season of the Danish series, so I actually have no clue. Not only that but if that’s true, then I kind of want to keep myself in the dark a little bit about it because we’re shooting sequentially.
What is the experience being part of the ensemble on a successful series like that?
It’s an incredibly gifted cast and it’s an interesting situation because I’m not on every single day with everyone in the cast because it’s such an ensemble piece. The first couple episodes, I was really kind of by myself. So now we’re getting into the stuff where all of our stories are starting to intertwine, where I’m in more scenes with people. There’s a lot more people on set, I will say that. It’s just a completely different experience I think, yet very similar. You’re doing the same job. It’s just there’s a lot more people and they have fancier toys.