Eclipsing the pain

Things Behind the Sun

Directed by Allison Anders

(Eric Stoltz, Rosanna Arquette, Alison Folland, Elizabeth Pena)

R

 

Yeah, it’s happened to everybody once: After a wild night of partying, you somehow find yourself passed out in the middle of a stranger’s lawn with a bottle of Jim Beam in your hand. But for a scraggly blonde musician named Sherry, it’s a regular occurrence.

Sherry is a talented singer/songwriter on the verge of becoming a star. The only thing standing in her way is a terrible childhood memory that she unsuccessfully attempts to drown with alcohol. Her most personal song, a horrific tale of her rape, intrigues a promising young musical journalist who decides to seek her out. Their lives have more in common than either is ready to admit and only by helping each other face the pain of their pasts will they be able to move on.

Directed by Allison Anders, herself a rape survivor, Things Behind the Sun portrays this brutal crime in a manner so horrifying and heartbreaking that it is nearly impossible to separate yourself from the pain onscreen. The film explores the terrible and long-term effects not only experienced by Sherry, but by everyone that enters into her life.

Music serves a central theme to Things – its title is from a Nick Drake song – dissipating some of the tense emotions clouding the screen. It is through this medium that characters connect and try to express their inner feelings. The film’s powerful score is written by Sonic Youth and includes several standout songs by them and Drake.

However, the narrative crawls by for a substantial portion of the film. It is only in the last half hour that we see Sherry as more than an irresponsible alcoholic, but an innocent and scarred survivor. The film has some very poignant moments, but the heavy subject matter and sluggish pace eclipse the deeper emotions of Things Behind the Sun. It may be a difficult film to watch, but its message about the lasting effects of rape is still a valuable lesson to all.

-M. A.

 

Things Behind the Sun opens today at the U Film’s Bell Auditorium.