Michel Franco‘s Sundown has been streamable for a few weeks now. (Apple, Amazon, Vudu.) Surely a few more HE regulars have seen it by now? 2022 is nearly one-third over, and I still think Sundown is the strangest, most unusual, most off-on-its-own-wavelength film of the year so far.

Here are some riffs from 2.11.22 and 2.13.22:

Sundown is basically a drop-out movie like Michelangelo Antonioni‘s The Passenger (’75), but I wish it had less plot, which is to say less motivational explanation. I was wishing it would just devote itself to the idea of pissing off and nihilistically doing whatever the hell. But it’s not, and that, for me, is a slight problem.

It’s about Neil (Tim Roth), a wealthy co-heir to a pig-slaughtering business who’s vacationing in Acapulco with his sister Allison (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and her two teenage children.

Allison and the kids pack and leave when news comes that she and Neil’s mother has died. But Neil decides against going — he lies that his passport is missing, and returns to Acapulco, and then checks into a shitty little hotel. And that’s it, at least for a while. Neil drinks a lot of beer, finds a thritysomething girlfriend (Iazua Larios), hangs out and basically does jack shit.

From Anthony Lane’s New Yorker review: “Here, we realize, is that most scandalous of creatures: the human who wants nothing. I’ve seen enough films about people who rush to make the most of their mortal span, ticking off bucket lists and reaping rosebuds while they may, so it’s a relief to come across Neil, the lolling foe of the upbeat. The title of the movie doesn’t do him justice. It should be called ‘The Fuck-it List.’”

Roth’s indifferent, nihilist-minded “Neil” instantly registers as one of the greatest-ever character studies of an older guy who just doesn’t care about anything.

Until, that is, Franco starts explaining why Neil has unplugged, which makes the film far less interesting. But let’s not dwell on the negative.

One of the highlights of Sundown is when Allison, having returned to Acapulco following funeral services for their mother, finds Neil at a low-rent hotel where he’s doing nothing except sipping beer, hanging on the beach and fucking a pretty local woman he’s just met. “What the fuck are you doing?” she screams. “You lied about losing your passport…what is wrong with you?”

And Roth just sits and stares, not saying a word. Franco only shows us the back of Roth’s head during this tirade. Because Neil doesn’t give a shit, and has nothing to say.

The fact that Neil has a mountain of family money is a Sundown default — a given. Marxist condemnation from Franco isn’t the shot here. And yet such condemnation is obviously embedded in Neil’s abrupt decision to become an anonymous, beer-drinking nihilist while staying at a bare-bones, no-frills, downmarket hotel in the shitty part of Acapulco.

Which is deeply, hugely fascinating. The engagement problem manifests when Franco starts offering rational explanations for Neil’s newfound fuck-itude. Who cares about the whys and wherefores? Not this horse.