Juli and I watched Sunshine tonight, the 2007 Danny Boyle film about a group of astronauts on a mission to give the sun a kick start. I heard a lot of bad mouthing about it when it came out and it scared me away from the theatre, but having seen it I have no idea what people were complaining about. It was great. I know some people thought the midmovie twist was weak, but it worked for me. It’s no feel-good movie, and it shouldn’t be. It’s bleak, filled with tension and despair, and wonderful. It is a science fiction film yes, but it almost crosses the line of being a horror film in outer space. The film is a spiritual descendant of Ridley Scott’s Alien, but lacks the more overt horror elements. It is also clearly inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, but lacks the oblique abstraction. It’s a different beast altogether and I loved it. Approved. I’m only disappointed that I didn’t go see it theatrically.
Plot aside, the film is just fucking beautiful. Alwin Küchler’s cinematography has to be some of the most beautiful work done last year, right up there with The Assassination of Jesse James by The Coward Robert Ford. The film’s CGI is stunning, but the real beauty is in the delicate, painterly photography that is rich and sumptuous while portraying the stark bleakness of the crew’s predicament alone in the far reaches of our solar system on a mission to save mankind. One shot that stands out is early in the film when the ship psychiatrist is sitting in the observation room and there is an extreme close-up of his eye behind sunglasses and the depth of field must have been something like a centimeter, yet Küchler totally nails it, giving us this extremely distorted yet recognizable, intimate shot of the man’s eye as he stares straight into the sun. And the blurry camera work in the end sequence? Holy crap. Just astounding. A truly incredible accomplishment.