Around the Sun
Around the Sun begins with an encounter between Bernard – a location scout – and Maggie. Every detail about the characters is shrouded in ambiguity. When he arrives at the Normandy château he has come to view, Bernard receives a piece of news that leaves him slightly altered. Maggie, the person responsible for showing him around, enthusiastically describes the features of the majestic building as they stroll through the beautiful green spaces surrounding it. Something clicks between them.
The movie revolves around the 17th-century text Conversations on the Plurality of Worlds by Bernard Le Bovier de Fontenelle. Maggie is fascinated by this book, which is a philosopher’s account of his stay at the château and the conversations he had there with his hostess – an aristocratic lady with whom he took long walks with as they debated existential matters. Maggie and Bernard follow in their footsteps as they view the grounds around the estate and discuss the very same topics.
In spite of the limited budget, the overall atmosphere has its charm thanks to the beautiful location. Written by Jonathan Kiefer and directed by Oliver Krimpas, this feature is original in its approach in that it gradually begins to mirror the contingent relations between time and space that are discussed by the characters, through the very structure of the film. While this is a clever device, Around the Sun fails to really take off and seduce the audience into jumping aboard. The lack of action makes it too static, to the point where the cinematographic elements seem wasted, as the long conversations could have easily taken place on a theatre stage instead.
The limited amount of movement and the single location mean that the focus is narrowed down to the dialogue alone. While the conversations make for a great introduction to the book that’s at the centre of the story and its fascinating themes, they fail to go further. Around the Sun never really gains its own identity and purpose. It essentially becomes a love letter to the book and its author, a dramatised interpretation of the text that plays around with the ideas proposed within it, without taking the opportunity to use it as a jumping board to tell a riveting story in an engaging way.
Around the Sun is released digitally on demand on 4th August 2020.
Watch the trailer for Around the Sun here: