Kate Lyn Sheil and Kentucker Audley excel in their roles as Crystal and Leo, two criminals in love and on the run in the new film ‘Sun Don’t Shine’.
The first moment of Amy Seimetz’s engrossing Sun Don’t Shine isn’t a production company’s logo or a bumper for any studio. That’s partly out of necessity because the film is largely self-financed, but what is there is striking and indicative of a new filmmaker with tons of energy. Crystal (Kate Lyn Sheil in a chilling and fantastic breakout role) quickly comes up for air in a fight with her boyfriend, Leo (Kentucker Audley, equally chilling). Their fisticuffs end when she uses her trademark scream to prevent him from hitting her. She later accuses him of following through with the slap, although he did not. If her behavior sounds like someone on the outskirts of insanity, it is. Seimetz (who also stars in Shane Carruth’s forthcoming Upstream Color) has made a film along the lines of Bonnie and Clyde, although Sun Don’t Shine probably won’t garner the same grandiose following. That’s not to say this is a bad film. Quite the contrary, it’s a neat little thriller that spooks emotionally, visually and psychologically. Crystal and Leo are en route to an ‘old friend’ of Leo’s; he has convinced her that this friend will somehow help them dump the body of Crystal’s murdered husband. This couple is truly terrifying because of the way they interact. At times, Crystal begs Leo to stop at a motel so they can consummate their love, and at other times, she accuses him of being more interested in women with “fake t**s and lips”. Leo has secrets and double standards of his own, but they are less psychological… or so it might seem.
Far be it from me to put words in artists’ mouths, but it seems to me that Seimetz wants her audience to question who’s more responsible for the deadly duo’s current predicament. Had it been a comedy, Sun Don’t Shine might have played like Due Date or Identity Thief. But it isn’t and those films don’t deserve any more mention other than to say that Seimetz’s film, like those recent comedies, shows how extremely flawed both of its main characters are and makes both of them accountable for their troubles. It’s also a road movie and a magnificent one at that. Although the cinematography by Jay Keitel is intentionally less high-def than a standard YouTube video and that might annoy some viewers, Keitel pulls off some beautiful shots just using the bare framework of an old sedan. The editing of the film, overseen by Seimetz and David Lowery, is also to be praised. The quick cuts between close-ups and traveling shots with voiceover from Crystal and Leo will probably send an eerie Malickian chill down the spines of astute viewers.
Eerie really is the perfect word to describe this film, right up to the very end. Although the falling action has already taken place, a thematic nod to Crystal’s obsession with mermaids sends the waves of her psychosis all the way out of the screen and into the viewer’s subconscious long after the credits stop rolling. It’ll be hard for me to forget Sun Don’t Shine come awards season when, sadly, the sun may already have set on this film. But if Seimetz continues to show this level of technical expertise and storytelling prowess, who knows? Maybe the sun will someday gleam off the head of an Oscar awarded to her.
(Sun Don’t Shine is now available on the iTunes Store and Amazon.)
– George Napper