To extend the metaphor, it's ironically the gloaming at which Sunset Song misses its mark - or perhaps more accurately at which it becomes apparent that it has. There are several moments of heightened drama that jar with the tone set previously and perhaps ask two of the actors to inject a level of theatricality into performances that had previously been layered with subtlety. Despite playing the central character, Deyn has little to do in the early scenes, which primarily focus on Davis' recurring motif, the embittered father, this time in the form of the suitably growling abusive pa (Peter Mullan). When Chris finds herself the sole heir to family farm, Blawearie, Deyn really comes into her own, maturing into a woman strong of mind and will in a decidedly male world. This is certainly one day that is at its most genuinely beguiling during the bright afternoon, as Chris and her beau, Ewan (Kevin Guthrie) romance with golden sunlight filtering through the lace curtains (McDonough captures the waning sunlight with aplomb). When war approaches, the pacing is revealed to have gone awry. Major conflicts are often employed as a motivator for decisive and immediate changes to character arcs, but here it's all too abrupt and rings hollow. Subsequently it means that in Sunset Song's final act there's a distinct absence of emotional heft when a tear in the eye is what is needed. Events are objectively moving, but they do not fully connect. Davis always knows how to wring out feeling and a long floating pan over No Man's Land is highly evocative and poignant, but Chris' travails don't quite hit home after a patiently captivating build-up.
The Toronto International Film Festival takes place from 10-20 September 2015. For more coverage, follow this link.
Ben Nicholson | @BRNicholson