Into The Wild) is Abner Meecham, an aging Tennessee farmer living in a nursing facility where he has been placed by his son, Paul (Walter Goggins, “The Shield”, “CSI Miami”), who has no sympathy for a father’s pride. But Abner has other ideas, and escapes to fulfill his dream of returning to his cherished farm and living out his final days in peace.
But when he arrives, he finds that his son has betrayed him a second time. Paul has sold the lease of the farm, and worse, the lease is in the hands of Abner’s old adversary, Lonzo Choat (Ray McKinnon, Academy Award®-winner, The Accountant). With the battle lines drawn, neither man is willing to give way. Threats are made, events spiral out of control…and a startling climax is inevitable. That Evening Sun also stars Alice in Wonderland star Mia Wasikowska, Walton Goggins (The Bourne Identity, Shanghai Noon) and Carrie Preston (Doubt, HBO’s True Blood).
I don't know what it is about Hal Holbrook, maybe it's the fact that he literally looks like he's about to keel over at any moment, or maybe it's his ability to deliver subtle but powerful acting performances time and time again (or a mixture of both), but each and every time I see him on screen I automatically start tearing up. His fifteen or so minutes of screen time in 'Into the Wild' were the best part of that movie. Like Clint Eastwood, Holbrook is a force on screen, but unlike Eastwood, Holbrook commands the screen with an understated brooding persona rather, than a sheer badass one. Even in his elderly years, Holbrook can still magnificently carry a dramatic film all by himself.
The setting is rural Tennessee, where Abner Meecham (Holbrook) has been stuck in a rest home by his son. Abner is a crotchety old man who constantly berates those younger than himself with the "your generation is so lazy" arguments. Abner is fed up with nursing home life, and feels he still has some good years left in his withering body. He decides to bolt from the home and find his way back to his old farm, and his beloved home. Only, when he gets there he finds out that people have moved in. Not just any people, these are the Choats. Abner has hated Lonzo Choat ever since Lonzo Choat was born. Choat is trying to get back on his feet. Abner's son, the same one that put him in the rest home, has rented out the house to the Choat family, but this doesn't sit well with Abner.
Even with all the legal papers, Abner still insists that the Choat family is there illegally, so he takes up residence in the dilapidate farmhand quarters built off the side of the main house. His goal is to make life so miserable for the Choat's that they finally move out.
Here's the kicker though, even though we're rooting for poor old Abner to get his house and land back, he's not completely a good guy. We learn things about his past that show he's got his own sins. He's conflicted. Same with Lonzo Choat. Sure he comes across as a greasy, lazy good-for-nothing, but there are some glimmers of hope that maybe he is trying to put his life back together, and Abner just can't see that. Plus Lonzo has a wife (Carrie Preston) and daughter (Mia Wasikowska) who are nice law-abiding people who just want to make their way in this world and Abner's home is how they're going to do that. If Abner kicks the Choats out, he's not just kicking out Lonzo, he's also making life worse, if not impossible, for the rest of his nice family.
This conflict of two people who can't be categorized as good or evil is the crux of this film. Who do you root for? We see events unfold from Abner's point of view, but it's still hard to not feel for the people he's confronting in the process. His stubbornness gets him and those around him into trouble, while Choat's arrogance provides just enough cause for Abner to hate him. One must wonder if Abner came home to find a kind family with young children playing in the yard, what would he have done then? I think he would have done the same exact thing. That doesn't make Abner a bad or good guy, it just makes him who he is. Nothing is black and white in 'That Evening Sun,' rather the different shades of gray lead us to believe that these people are just fighting for what they think is rightfully theirs. Led by another dynamite performance by the one and only Hal Holbrook, this film is (as cliché as it sounds) a must see. It didn't find a wide release while in theaters, but maybe on home video 'That Evening Sun' can reach a wider audience. Hopefully it will.
Image Entertainment provides a nice, albeit inconsistent 1080p video presentation of 'That Evening Sun.' Filmed on location in Tennessee, the lush greens of the surrounding vegetation pop off the screen. Sadly, soft shots of characters and faces prevail throughout the movie, leading to an unevenly detailed picture. At times facial pores and Holbrook's age lines are visible and clear, other times they're obscured by softness.
Blacks are nice, and shadows don't aggressively swallow up faces, but there are times where blacks seem somewhat crushing like inside Abner's poorly-lit cabin. We already talked about the rich greens that populate the picture, but other colors do quite well too, especially oranges and reds. As a fire engulfs a building the oranges and reds burst with life, offering an outstanding view of a structure burning to the ground. Overall this is a good looking presentation, but the softer shots that frequently pop up during the runtime are detrimental to the image as a whole. One good thing is that banding, ringing, and aliasing are nowhere in sight, leaving the image clean from anomalies or source noise of any kind.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio provided here is slightly underwhelming, but offers enough in the way of atmosphere to please most people who will be watching.
Dialogue is a tad too low, and gets lost sometimes, especially as Lonzo drunkenly mumbles most of his lines. Panning effects, such as the spreading fire, are nicely done, but they aren't amazingly stunning. The subdued musical score featuring old-timey banjo songs is given a nice stage to shine in the front channels. LFE isn't present during much of this dialogue-heavy film, but it does kick in during gunfire and engulfing flames. Surrounds are quiet much of the time, but they do offer some nice ambient noise, such as crickets, cicadas, barking dogs, and other sounds you'd hear way out in the middle of rural Tennessee.
While this audio presentation won't blow you away, it doesits job fairly nicely. If only the dialogue was a little better prioritized, this would be a great soundtrack.
Hal Holbrook gives another amazing performance, this time playing a rough old man who wants his land and life back. 'That Evening Sun' is a great little film with some exceptional acting that makes it well worth watching. The video and audio are slightly above average, which is to be expected with a little indie film like this. There's also a sizable helping of informative special features. This title comes recommended.