The Sunset Limited - Movie Review

The Sunset Limited

The Sunset Limited - Movie Review

Cormac McCarthy’s second screenplay “The Sunset Limited” was written back in 2006 that was then adapted for film. The HBO film was executive-produced, directed, and starred by the greatest Tommy Lee Jones with Samuel L. Jackson as his co-star. These big three names were enough to easily grab anyone’s attention and drove everyone curious to watch it. 

Ideas-driven movies are much harder to perfect. They are harder to pique the interest of viewers, yet, Mr. Jones managed to fit the dialogue to the big screen successfully to create this underrated masterpiece. People who are fans of action or thriller movies might find this one to be a bit boring because it's mostly static.

The movie starts with a single scene of the oldest named train in the US “The Sunset Limited”. It’s solely focused on the opposing ideologies that the characters relentlessly defend throughout their conversation that is carried out in a small room that Jackson lives in as he leads a very minimalistic and spiritual life.

Without any names given, Jones is referred to as “White” which is a nihilistic professor who tried to jump in front of the Sunset Limited train. Jackson, on the other hand, plays a god-fearing ex-con named “Black”. 

The character White displays the ideologies of a cynical atheist who is extremely unsatisfied with life in general to the extent that he has lost hope in his own life and tried to end it. The middle-aged professor has a knack for the English language and has read an endless number of books.

The professor clearly states that he only believes in the foundations of civilizations. Cultural things, art, and music are the only things that have value for him. There is a scene where Black insists on asking whether White has read the Bible or not. White explained that he had read in it but never cared enough to see it through. Black then calculated an estimate of the number of books that White has read which comes up to 4000 books, yet The Bible is excluded from his interests.

Black, on the other hand, is a firm believer in God. He obviously has a God or Messiah complex that is portrayed in his endless effort to save everyone including the professor from committing suicide. After going through a traumatic experience where he was stabbed and almost killed, Black claims that God has “spoken to him”. This near-death experience was the reason why Black found God and became the person he was.

“The things I loved were very frail, very fragile. I didn’t know that I thought they were indestructible. They weren’t.” White sums up what has sent him to the edge of the platform in a very few, yet very powerful, words. The conversation taps into ideas about religion, love, happiness, morals, and more. This hour and a half will not let you blink regardless of which side you are on.

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