The Sunlit Night (2019)

Gillian Anderson, Jenny Slate, Zach Galifianakis, Jessica Hecht,
The Sunlit Night is a movie starring Gillian Anderson, Jessica Hecht, and Jenny Slate. Set between New York City and the far north of Norway, The Sunlit Night follows American painter Frances and émigré Yasha as an unlikely pair who...
  • 5.9 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Writer:
  • David Wnendt, Director:
  • Fabian Gasmia, Gabrielle Nadig, Ruben Thorkildsen, Producer:

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6 / 10

don't let the sun go down on me

Greetings again from the darkness. The journey to find one's self is not unique to artists, but for some reason, it's more cinematically appealing when an artist is involved. In this quirky film from director David Wnendt, with a screenplay Rebecca Dinerstein Knight adapted from her own novel, artists (of varying types) are everywhere. Of course finding one's self usually involves making peace with this quagmire we call life.

Frances (Jenny Slate, OBVIOUS CHILD, 2014) watches as three snooty art critics denigrate her latest work to the point of humiliation. Her long-time boyfriend dumps her, and she returns home to her parents, both artists. Instead of sympathy from the family, she's bombarded with news that her sister Gaby (Elise Kilbler) is engaged to a man her father loathes, and to top off the family dinner, her parents (Jessica Hecht, David Paymer) announce they are separating. Rather than deal with any of this head-on, Frances accepts an apprenticeship with an artist in north Norway. "Norway, Norway". Where the sun never sets.

Nils (Fridtjov Saheim) is the personality opposite to talkative, upbeat Frances. He grumps around while escorting her to the trailer she'll stay in for the summer. The project, seemingly uninspiring, is to paint a local dilapidated barn yellow - inside and out. Nils is under a tight deadline to finish the barn so it (and he) can earn a spot on the map of cultural sites. Close by is a Viking museum and community, where the folks, led by their Chief (Zach Galifianakis), re-create Viking life for tourists (or mostly themselves).

One day Yasha (Alex Sharp, HOW TO TALK TO GIRLS AT PARTIES, 2017) shows up. He's arranging a ceremonial Viking funeral for his beloved father (Olek Krupa). Father and son worked together daily in their bakery and developed a close bond. Sasha's mother (Gillian Anderson), who left them years ago, unexpectedly shows up for the funeral, hoping to lure him to live with her.Frances compares everyone she meets to subjects in famous works of art. It's her way of connecting art to the real world, as well as helping her find a place for people in her world of art. Frances and Yasha are drawn together in their search for direction and meaning, and we are led to believe this connection, no matter how brief or random their crossing of paths might be, helps her in her personal quest.

The cinematography from Martin Ahlgren captures this rarely seen top-of-the-world wonderland, and the landscape is truly something to behold. Ms. Slate is once again top notch in her role. She's likable and relatable, traits some actors struggle with, but which apparently come natural to her. And while we expect lives to be messy and complicated, we hope for a bit more from our movies. Frances' home life is drawn straight out of a TV sitcom, and the whole Viking village never really makes sense. It seems Frances is short-changed on all of her relationships here, yet the trip still manages to help her discover something in her art. And that's just about how life works - really messy right up until something clicks, and then back to messy.

10 / 10

Awesome movie

I absolutely loved this story, the score, the cinematography, the acting was good definitely a perfect 10 for me as I watched it like 10 times

7 / 10

Lovely to look at

Very enjoyable, (as much as I hate to use the term) quirky, indie film about art, artistic growth and expression. Jenny Slate is the fish-out-of-water as she travels from Brooklyn to Norway, finding her "voice" along the way.

Not much dramatic tension or big moments but that's okay. Lovely to look at and listen to and any chance to spend time with Slate is worth it.

7 / 10

"The Sunlit Night": Living, Loving and Painting amidst an Oxymoron

There is roughly a two month stretch in late summer when the sun never fully sets on The Lofoten Islands of northern Norway. To visitors, this can be most disorienting. As it was for Frances, the character brilliantly brought to life by Jenny Slate (excellent also in 2014's underrecognized "Obvious Child") in the enchanting new dramedy "The Sunlit Night".

I was particularly drawn to this unusual tale of a New York painter (Slate) who accepts a job assisting an iconic but fading Norwegian artist attempting to resuscitate his career by painting a barn yellow (I said it was unusual). My dear dad is Norwegian-born and has been to The Lofotens many times.

As Frances journeys through this Scandinavian Odyssey by the sea she encounters a tourist village of modern-day Vikings (Zac Galifianakis is hilarious as a horde leader), a nude portrait model she recruits from a local grocery store and a young guy/love interest in the throes of family turmoil. That's a lot to process, no matter where you are. And it all manages to come together in a most delicious smorgasbord (I know, I know, that's Swedish) of stunning scenery, simulated swordplay and self-discovery.

The only thing missing was the lutefisk. But then again, to most not indigenous to "The Land of The Midnight Sun", that's a good thing.

Tuller Norge! Uff da!