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article imageReview: ‘The Sunset Limited’ blazes onto home video

By Sarah Gopaul     Feb 9, 2012 in Entertainment
Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L. Jackson are exceptional in Cormac McCarthy's ‘The Sunset Limited.’ It's available on DVD and Blu-ray February 7.
A stage play performed by only two actors in a single location is not unheard of; in fact, if done well, it's an ideal use of space and resources. A film, on the other hand, with all its possibilities rarely places such rigid restrictions on itself. The Sunset Limited is a play adapted for the screen and brought to life by two dynamite actors.
In an inner city basement tenement, two men with incredibly different views on life debate whether it's worth living after one saves the other from jumping in front of the Sunset Limited train. Black (Samuel L. Jackson) is an ex-con who has reformed and claims that Jesus speaks to him. White (Tommy Lee Jones) is a professor who does not adhere to any religion and desires nothing more than to end his life. After hours of discussing and sharing, food and drink, the men come to a conclusion – and audiences are left to come to their own.
A film starring only two actors is quite unique; especially in an age of movie releases in which minimalism is almost extinct. It places a lot of onus on the story and performances, which are both outstanding in this movie. The ability of these two men to pull an audience in and capture their complete attention for 90 minutes is exceptional.
The philosophy that drives the story is a pertinent one in a society that has so much upon which to reflect negatively. Black clings to religion to make all that is bad bearable, while White believes life is what we've made it and there can be no reprieve. Written by Cormac McCarthy, these two powerful arguments will keep you thinking long after the credits roll.
Jones' directing on-camera appears to be minimal, though the rehearsal for the material must have been extensive. The camera enters the conversation from different angles, but is not intrusive. The physically small, confined space is made larger by the freedom afforded the camera to move around the room and between the characters.
Both Jones and Jackson have been in films that cause admirers to raise an eyebrow or audibly ask why. Now there's an answer: they were saving two of their best, possibly emotionally taxing performances for The Sunset Limited.
Director: Tommy Lee Jones
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson and Tommy Lee Jones
Special features include: commentary by executive producer/director Jones, writer Cormac McCarthy and Jackson; and a making-of featurette featuring interviews with the cast and crew. (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)
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