SXSW Film Review: Before the Sun Explodes
A weird and crazy night in West Hollywood
By Michael Agresta,
3:00PM, Tue. Mar. 15, 2016
Indie actress (Oleanna) turned filmmaker Deborah Eisenstadt is interested in uncomfortable spaces, and her new feature Before the Sun Explodes is lodged in one such uncertain territory: between “manic pixie dream girl” romantic comedy and stalker thriller.
The movie never quite works by the conventions of either genre, but it does display a sharp eye for the rootless edges of the L.A. showbiz world, where everyone is some variety of creepy weirdo.The film centers on an unfunny comedian, Ken (Bill Dawes), and the screenplay shares his anxious ambivalence with blue material. We’re never sure if the movie wants us to laugh at his jokes – prepared or off-the-cuff – or grimace. The dreamlike second act has us follow Ken back to the seedy West Hollywood apartment complex of young, sexually forward comedienne Holly (Sarah Butler), who lives with an age-inappropriate male roommate and stocks her pantry with gas station snacks. Ken knows he shouldn’t be there, but he sticks it out, if only to satisfy our curiosity. Is Holly’s world a warning to him of the dangerous rootlessness of life outside his marriage? Or a reflection of his own deeply dysfunctional home life? The film resists any sort of conclusive ending.
Narrative Feature Competition, World Premiere
Thursday, March 17, 2pm, Alamo South Lamar