Edinburgh International Film Festival

Sun Don't Shine (2012)

Starring: Kate Lyn Sheil, Kentucker Audley, AJ Bowen, Kit Gwin

Directed by: Amy Seimetz

Rating: 1 2 3

Kate Lyn Sheil as Crystal and Kentucker Audley as Leo in Sun Don't Shine

A young couple are scrapping on a beach. The girl, Crystal (Kate Lyn Sheil), lies down for a rest; her boyfriend (Kentucker Audley) studies a map. They’re on the run in Florida. They have a dead body in the boot of their car.

This low budget indie American road movie throws us into media res so sharply that at first I wondered if the reels had been put on in the wrong order. (Are films even on reels any more? Probably not.) But then, that’s the nature of dreams, and Sun Don’t Shine is based on a dream (or nightmare, rather) of director Amy Seimetz.

This doesn’t surprise me, as, creepy as it may sound, I’ve had several similar dreams, in which I have to dispose of a dead body, a terrible burden of fear and guilt hanging over me, just like the nightmarishly oppressive atmosphere that pervades the action of Sun Don’t Shine, as close and cloying as the swampy Florida air.

In the dream I never see myself committing the crime, and likewise we never find out exactly what happened to Crystal’s abusive husband before the film began, but we know it can’t have been good.

The soundtrack buzzes and echoes and reverberates, cutting out altogether at moments of heightened stress before occasionally echoing those unmistakeable chimes we recognise from Badlands and True Romance, the sound of young lovers on the run. Sadly, this only serves to emphasise the gulf between any whispered romantic notions Crystal may harbour about the new relationship she’s slipped into, and the volatile, desperate reality.

Dreamlike, hazy and uneven, Sun Don’t Shine, like yesterday’s Edinburgh International Film Festival opener, Killer Joe, seems more anchored in the 1970s than the 21st century; part road movie, part hypnotic psychological study of a woman in crisis.

While not entirely my cup of tea (it’s a little too self-consciously indie for my plebeian tastes, with a few too many mumbly voiceover/shaky cam meanderings), it’s nevertheless a hugely interesting film, with some impressive performances from an unknown cast. Catch it if you can.

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