Sunset – Review

Sunset is now available to rent, buy or stream.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Following his Oscar-winning Son of Saul, László Nemes’ dark and mysterious costume drama is set in pre-first world war Budapest, taking the classic costume drama and injecting it with a dose of gothic horror. However, at its heart, Sunset is an exploration of societal change and the oncoming storm of war and division in 1913 Europe.

Juli Jakab plays Irisz Leiter, a young woman who returns to her home city of Budapest intent on gaining employment as a milliner at the city’s prestigious Leiter hat store. The store was founded by her late parents, who died in a fire when Irisz was just two years old. However, her arrival is greeted with indifference and suspicion by the shop workers and the current owner Oszkár Brill (Vlad Ivanov). Here the rumours swirling around her family history are still vivid and alive. As Irisz rejoins a society built on wealth and secrets, she struggles to assimilate, the nagging need to discover the truth behind her family’s demise and the fate of her older brother surrounding her in a country on the verge of war.

Sunset is a bizarre mix of brilliance and gutwrenching disappointment. Visually Nemes’ movie is a triumph; however, structurally, it is riddled with problems, its multiple competing themes never merging to create a rounded drama or thriller. Here Sunset’s narrative feels messy as it bounces the viewer from mystery to hat shop gothic horror and pre-war drama. Unfortunately, this creates a confusing journey that never finds a hook, quickly losing the audience in a convoluted story that goes nowhere.


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