Hal Holbrook, Mia Wasikowska




That Evening Sun


I’ve always responded more to so-called ‘novelistic’ films, films that depended on characters rather than action, and “That Evening Sun” is one of those that comes out of a short story and is built on a conflict of characters instead of battles.  Everything that’s said reveals as much about each character in the film as it does about moving the plot along.  And the plot is simple.  An 80-year-old man, Abner Meecham (Hal Holbrook in a gorgeous performance worthy of another Academy Award) has been sent to a senior nursing home by his son the lawyer.  He leaves the home and returns to his old farm in Tennessee, which he cannot work again because as he says, he has a bad hip and a bad heart.  But he would like at least to live there the remaining days of his life. 


But what he discovers is that his son has rented the farm to a family, the Choats,  run by a ne’er do well named Lonzo, with a mousy wife and a 15-year-old daughter (Mia Wasikowska before she was Alice), who’ve rented the place with an option to buy when his scam of an injury caused by logs rolling off a truck comes through for them.  Abner hates Lonzo, he has a fraught relationship with his own son, and establishes himself in the tenant-farmer’s cabin near his old farmhouse.