NEXT up from Saturday at the Manchester International Film Festival, our writer Matthew Lanceley gives us his When The Sun Shines review.
Hailing from Denmark, director Frederik Barington aims to explore what it means to be young in When The Sun Shines. He has created a hauntingly beautiful and tragic film that genuinely surprises in more ways than one.
We are introduced to Sofus, a 17-year-old cancer patient who has just been moved into a hospice. His mother is by his side around the clock, and he has yet to experience much of what life has to offer. Then he notices Sarah, who works at the hospice, and we watch as their friendship grows and develops.
So far, this all sounds very “Fault in Our Stars”-esque, but aside from the basic set-up, the two films take quite different paths. When The Sun Shines does not use amateur philosophy to explain life’s mysteries, but instead just ordinary people helping each other as best they can.
This film is beautiful in almost every way. Every shot is carefully chosen with gorgeous lighting and framing, using the sun in innovative ways all the time. The soundtrack is amazing and is used at just the right moment to change the mood or to emphasise it.
Especially towards the end of the film, when Sofus and Sarah venture out into the wider world, we see some truly amazing shots using the simplest of angles and actions.
Despite seemingly using it as a template, When The Sun Shines sparkles far brighter than The Fault In Our Stars. Two reasons, the first being that the acting in this is leagues better, and the second being that this film is sad and emotional, yet never in a mawkish or predictable way.
— Elliot G (@MancunianElliot) March 6, 2017
The acting on display here is phenomenal. The two leads, Elias Munk and Laura Kjær, are both fantastic in their respective roles, not relying on superfluous speeches about mortality but rather a single look, or expression that says so much more.
This is made all the more impressive when you learn that this is Laura’s first feature film. The chemistry between the two is believable, heartfelt and so thoroughly genuine that you really want them both to succeed in conquering their individual problems, despite the fact that you know this is unlikely.
When The Sun Shines is a superb little film that leaves you wanting more from these characters. Some will see the ending as a strange anti-climax, but I thought it was intelligently done. It uses subtlety to tell what should be a straightforward story and elevates it to something special.