His expressive use of the camera and dreamlike elliptical touches sets him well apart from the donkey jacket brigade. His films are something invariably richer and distinct. Better? If cinema is a broad church, there is room for all in the pews, but Davies stands aloft among British directors. Based on the 1932 novel by Lewis Gibbon, Sunset Song is the story of Chris Guthrie (Agyness Deyn) and her years growing up on a farm in north-east Scotland, in the run up to the First World War. Opening in golden and lush wheat fields - exteriors were filmed on 70mm stock and its glowing quality enhances the mood of the natural world beautifully - Davies has adapted the 1930s text into a hymn of female fortitude and indomitability.
Deyn is quite the find. Davies, as we know from Gillian Anderson and The House of Mirth, can get tremendous performances from his leading ladies. Chris is earthy, but also ethereal, yet without being idealised. She seems so real, so headstrong. The scene in which she stands up to the taunts and threats of her increasingly violent husband (played by Kevin Guthrie), brandishing a knife and telling him dead straight "I am not frightened of you", is a fine example of how Davies discards typical melodrama. In its exploration of the sacred and profane, Sunset Song is a reminder of what British cinema can be when not enthralled to trends or traditions. It might have an early 20th century setting and a pastoral locale, but this is a thoroughly modern and accessible work by a visionary filmmaker.
Martyn Conterio | @Cinemartyn