IFFBoston Day Five: That Evening Sun

Abner: You even walk like it.
Lonzo: What?
Abner: White trash. It amuses me.

In That Evening Sun, Abner Meecham [Hal Holbrook] takes off from an assisted-living facility and returns to his Tennessee farm. Once there, he finds that his son has leased it to a man he has never liked, Lonzo Choat [Ray McKinnon]. Abner sets up in the caretaker’s cottage out back and schemes how to get Lonzo and his family to move out. Meanwhile, convinced the farm now belongs to him, Lonzo seethes with resentment at Abner’s return. An ominous air fills each scene as two generations battle it out over land rights. Verbal threats soon escalate to more violent, bitter acts. Directed by Scott Teems, That Evening Sun focuses on an elderly man who has no intention to become a pushover. He is that stereotypical grumpy old man. He’s a widower and seems very bitter except when we see him dreaming about his wife [played in warm, artful dream sequences by Holbrook’s real life spouse Dixie Carter]. Choat is an awful, drunk red neck loser who cannot pay the rent. But in reality, this could be the result of the economy and be a very real and painful situation. Does the audience emphasize with him? Not easily when he beats his daughter and treats his wife like dirt. That Evening Sun reflects today’s economic time: the strains to find work; to keep a family together and to stay sane. The film unfolds like an evening in the South: slow and sprawling.

Grade: B

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