Watch the Sunset (2017)

Watch the Sunset (2017)
  • 83
  • Genre: Action
  • Release year: 2017 ()
  • Running time: 82 min
  • Original Title: Watch the Sunset
  • Voted: 83

In a single afternoon a man comes to grips with the power of his past when his estranged family becomes tangled in its web.

1Tristan BarrDanny
2Mitchell BoothMeth cook
3Catherine DawsonSchool Teacher
4Michael GosdenRussell
  • Stay Away by 1

    Before this review risks being pulled, two words... Stay Away! This cute effect of a one shot film is equal to a one trick pony. A vacuous narrative with unbelievable characters. Trust me, it's not worth it. Sadly

  • SNORRRRE by 2

    Where do I start...unfortunately this film has little to offer - bad script with holes through the narrative and characters difficult to empathise dressed in poor costume design. You've been warned!

  • One shot Aussie film is more than a technical marvel. by 8

    Watch the Sunset opens with a variety of news footage related to drug related crimes and issues. The film that follows is a one shot eighty minute journey through the town of Kerang, Victoria. Working as the feature film debut for the Jack of all trades team that includes (deep breath) co-director/co-writer/actor/co-producer Tristan Barr, co- director/co-writer/actor/co-producer Michael Godsen, cinematographer/producer Damien Lipp, Watch the Sunset is a powerful, immersive slice of work.

    Australian cinema is full of crime stories, almost to the point that there is an unconscious tendency to lionise the criminals within the pieces. In the late nineties through to the early 2000's, there was a trend to celebrate the ultra-ocker, uber-blokey crime figures within films like Two Hands, Chopper, and Dirty Deeds. Finally, the Aussie crime genre reached a pinnacle with the Underbelly series, which in turn transformed real life court trials into tabloid fodder. The focus of most of these stories seemed more focused on the thugs and crims themselves than the people affected by the drugs that they willingly push to fund their criminal lifestyle. Watch the Sunset takes the crime genre and directly puts us in the mind space of someone who is recovering from drugs and wanting to create a better life for themselves. There is a conscious effort to humanise those who are stigmatised within media and politics.

    After the introductory news footage, we spend a few minutes with Danny as he's driving back in to town. This protracted time with Danny allows us to become accustomed to the quiet mood within the town. The streets of which are mostly devoid of life. A playground that Danny's daughter moves through is completely vacant. An early moment with a church choir has the sound sucked out of the scene – these are voiceless people singing a silent song into a dark church. It becomes apparent through this quiet, almost lifeless town, how drug pushing gangs would thrive. Where boredom may breed creativity, it can also foster darker forces who through peer pressure and coercion can find ways to imbed their tendrils and control people.

    It's at the church choir that we see Sally trying to find her place in a world that she almost doesn't belong in. The other singers appear to be mostly elderly, a sign that many of the younger citizens within the town have long left both religion and the town behind in search of a better life. Sally has long moved on from her drug embellished life in search of a better future for herself and her daughter. No matter how deep the ties with a person or a town may be, it is sometimes necessary to break that connection for the better of ones self, and it's evident that Sally would do anything for her daughter. Mid-song, she notices that Danny has slipped in to come whisk her away, and the memories of a traumatic past immediately come flooding back.

    Unfortunately for both Sally and Danny, Shane (Aaron Walton) and Russell (Michael Gosden) are on their trail and seeking the retribution that they believe Danny deserves. Shane believes in honour and mateship, and Danny's abandonment and decision to break free of living a drug-related life works in contrast to Shane's world view. He is the hero in his own story and sees no troubles in bringing them back in line, no matter what level of violence and terror that means.

    Even though we are not given a thorough back story for these characters, through solid performances from the three main leads (Barr, Zeller and Walton) we get a powerful understanding of who they are as individuals. Small touches add a powerful background as to what life in this small country town is like. A scene where Danny and Sally's daughter, Joey (Annabelle Williamson), plays in a playground by herself while her parents argue in a car is given a deeper emotional thread when we see her shooting an imaginary gun against imaginary thugs. We learn about a life a child lives from how they play, and through Joey's play-style we get a grand look at the world she has grown up within. It's sobering and heartbreaking. We immediately want the best for both Sally and Joey, and are purely invested in their fates going forward.

    If there's a criticism I have with Watch the Sunset, it's a later scene which involves Joey, some impactful violence and drug use. While I respect the choice to showcase violence and drug use within a story, I struggle as a viewer when those scenes include a child. The violence and drug use is never directed at the child herself, however it's hard to not question the need to include her in these scenes.

    Watch the Sunset is technically a brilliant film – a high-speed shot and the closing sequence stand out as truly impressive moments. (I would be remiss to not mention the great score by Richard Labrooy as well.) However, the film would be lesser if it were simply just a technical achievement, and it's thanks to great directing, acting and writing that it is elevated above its one-shot aspect. Watch the Sunset is a great feature debut, providing a great announcement of a group of great Australian talent that will no doubt provide immersive, challenging cinema going forward.

  • A gripping Australian thriller by 8

    Hailed as Australia's very first one-shot feature film, Watch the Sunset is an impressive example of boundary pushing independent filmmaking that heralds in some noteworthy talent in the form of co-directors and co-stars Tristan Barr and Michael Gosden and the films true MVP, cinematographer Damian Lipp.

    Shot in the picturesque rural country town of Kerang, Sunset follows Barr's drug-addled bikie gang member Danny Biaro across a fateful 80 or so minutes as the tormented soul finds his breaking free of the ties to his gang The Bloodless Brothers anything but smooth sailing as his young daughter and on and off again partner are drawn into a dangerous game of life or death as Biaro must confront those he once saw as family.

    There's nothing overly new or ground-breaking in this tale of a criminal seeking redemption and family connection after years of neglect and bad decisions but Barr and Gosden's ability to craft this narrative in a singular take ensures Sunset is never anything but captivating and while it's hard to form too much of a strong bond on a human level to those that come and go in the single take offering, Sunset grips the viewer from the opening 10 minutes and won't let you go until its impressively staged finale.

    What makes this feat even more incredible is the fact these filmmakers constructed such a polished offering outside of big-studio and big budget backing and from everything from the performances that are led impressively by Barr in the lead role, the moody score by Richard Labrooy, through to the realism drenched and hard hitting dialogue, Sunset feels like a film made by a team of highly skilled and dedicated filmmakers that will surely be mainstays of local and overseas cinema in the years yet to come.

    There's a care and professional that seeps out of every pour of the film, while at times its grimy, grungy and grainy, this is perfectly suited to a tale that deals with hard hitting issues, unafraid to showcase the pitfalls and problems that follow drug addicts around like a black dog, many unable to escape from its constant stalking and preying despite their best efforts.

    While it doesn't make for mainstream feel-good entertainment, Sunset is the type of Australian production that is far too rare in today's current marketplace and for fans of local cinema and for those overseas cinephiles that are seeking quality foreign content, Sunset is a prime example of what can be achieved from our home grown talent and skill sets.

    Final Say -

    Both an impressive feat of filmmaking workmanship and hard hitting story-telling, Watch the Sunset is a stunning example of Australian film and a truly exciting calling card for all involved.

    4 church choirs out of 5

  • Innovative and engaging by 10

    I really enjoyed watching this film, although be warned it is confronting at times. The use of the one shot is a stroke of genius - massive kudos to the cinematographer - but is in no way gimmicky. It works beautifully with the story, and creates a deep investment in the characters. The performances are superb; these are real, relatable people and it is impossible not to empathise. The score is exceptional. An all round really great film; innovative, engaging and kept me on the edge of my seat. Highly recommend watching it!

1Richard Labrooycomposer
2Dale Trotteditor
3Damien E. Lippproducer
4Chelsea Zellerwriter