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Arguably one of the most-strikingly shot entries at this year’s Slamdance, Sundowning, a debut feature written and directed by Frank Rinaldi, is also likely the most impenetrable.
A numbingly minimalist, sci-fi-tinged study of a young woman and her serene caregiver who live an isolated existence in a tastefully-decorated home, the experimental film, shot on location in Singapore, ultimately proves more pretentious than provocative.
Knowing virtually nothing of her own past or present identity, Shannon (Shannon Fitzpatrick) is attentively attended to by the equally enigmatic Susan (Susan Chau).
Their painstaking daily regimen includes bathing, floral arrangements, yoga positions, dancing and mundane household chores punctuated on rare occasion by Shannon discussing the migration pattern of monarch butterflies.
But while the cinematography, with the photogenic Fitzpatrick often filmed through sheer fabric, is quite gorgeous and Laetitia Gangotena’s production design (big on flowers and butterflies) is tastefully textured, all the recurring imagery and actions take a toll, even as small cracks begin to form in those ritualized routines and the complacent patient begins to grow irritable.
Although there inevitably turns out to be a point to all that repetition, by the time the reveal arrives, the heavily sedated Shannon isn’t the only one who has been effectively lulled into submission.
Cast: Susan Chau, Shannon Fitzpatrick
Director-screenwriter: Frank Rinaldi
Producers: Stephanie Bousley, Shannon Fitzpatrick, Kenny Gee
Director of photography: Kiran Chitanvis
Production designer: Laetitia Gangotena
Music: Thomas Seely
Editor: Scott Laidlaw
Not rated, 92 minutes.
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