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Overall Rating

Awesome: 41.18%
Worth A Look52.94%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 5.88%

1 review, 11 user ratings

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Things Behind the Sun
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by Chris Parry

"Not a feel-good flick, but a real good flick."
4 stars

Anyone who knows (or knows of) Allison Anders knows two things. Firstly, she’s very generous with assistance and advice to upcoming filmmakers, perhaps more than any other person working in film. And secondly, her films just aren’t very good. Okay, that’s a broad generalization, but every man has his opinion and this reviewer (and many like him) has always thought that, while well meaning, an Anders film ain’t exactly an event to look forward to. Thankfully, Things Behind The Sun is. Ms Anders, you’ve done well here.

Sherry (Kim Dickens) is a singer/songwriter. She sings/writes good stuff. But she’s also a raging alchy and a serial adulterer. See, Sherry was gang-raped when she was a kid, and while the experience helps give her music depth and feeling, it screws up just about everything else.

On the other coast sits Owen (Gabriel Mann), a music journalist writing for Vinyl Fetish – a micro-mag that seems to have more money and staff than any I’ve ever worked for – but let’s cede to suspension of disbelief for a bit. When an intern pops in with a story about a singer in Florida, lights start to go off in Owen’s head. He knows this chick. He knows her well. And he knows who raped her. Tough shit to the intern, you go back to stapling photocopies, Owen’s on a plane to talk to Sherry. Why? Because Owen’s brother was behind the rape. Eeeew.

Yep, it’s a rape tale. Now before you start calling all the girls you know who have half inch crop-tops and let them know a new anti-male affair is hitting town, hold back there, champ. See, Anders has done the males but good with this flick. She doesn’t paint us all as demons, in fact she perhaps takes a far too soft a brush to what went on (and regularly goes on). There’s bad guys out ther,e but there’s good guys too. And that’s where Don Cheadle comes in. Don plays Sherry’s boyfriend/manager; a guy who has become all too used to Sherry’s penchant for screwing anything that moves and drinking away her cut of the door.

What follows is an interesting, fearlessly depicted film that manages to avoid cliché and sensationalism, and replace it with an honest, open account of the things people do to other people for a few moments of power.

The performances sizzle, with the exception of Mann who repeatedly has the quizzical, wide-eyed gulping stare of a man who has just been punched in the nose. Mann looks like he’s doing soap opera while everyone else is doing real life. He’s probably a fine actor, but alongside Dickens (who pumps this character for all she’s worth), Cheadle (who seethes until he just pops in one glorious scene involving extreme violence against Corn Flakes) and Eric Stoltz (who plays Owen’s older brother, now in jail), Mann just can’t compete with such a magnificent line-up of scenery-chewers.

Certianly the news isn’t all good. There’s issues to address throughout this film, not least of which is the obvious nods to various bands that Anders no doubt has great affection for (but which most of us could care less). Every scene seems to have an old album cover somewhere in shot, usually conspicuously central to the frame and far too product-placement like. Did Anders need to show the covers as part of an agreement allowing her to use the music? Is she just a vinyl-head that likes to show what she owns? Did she just have a bad production designer? Whatever the reason, it’s a constant distraction. Also distracting is the terrible sound mix, which varies from head-achingly loud to ‘what did she say’ soft in the switch of a shot. There’s no transitions, no fade ins, it’s all just ‘here is a loud place, here is a quiet place (even though it’s the same room).’
Early on, I seriously wanted to leave, such was the pain I was feeling in my head.

But as time goes on, the film takes hold and Dickens shows she has the goods to carry it. This is no movie-of-the-week, it’s no femme revenge agenda, it’s just a very good flick that will in all probability never get the screens it deserves.

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originally posted: 05/02/01 07:20:06
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User Comments

12/13/10 M.S.P.Rao A sensitive & touching portrayal of the agony & devastating effect of gang rape on a girl 4 stars
7/19/10 Ondine Obviously, this critic has never been raped. 5 stars
11/05/05 everyone's a critic moving, realistic, amazing 5 stars
4/12/03 jkf Tough and raw -- an excellent film !! 5 stars
8/13/02 blakers a good film 4 stars
4/29/02 Russell Cunningham Compelling, haunting, realistic inspite of dramatic coincidence. 5 stars
1/25/02 greensweater Mann sucked so bad. 1 stars
8/22/01 jan It was real for me. 4 stars
8/18/01 Judith Latham incredible 5 stars
7/13/01 Cindy I was blown away 5 stars
6/08/01 Owen Butler I am one of the child actors in the film so i am going to be bios but its GREAT! 5 stars
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  28-Apr-2001 (R)



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