Film: The Sunlit Night

There isn’t much to The Sunlit Night (2019), but it may appeal to fans of low-key indie quirk and Nordic scenery. Frances (Jenny Slate) is a struggling artist whose chaotic life in New York falls apart spectacularly just as she’s passed over for a coveted artist residency in Japan. As a fallback, she’s offered a dreary summer mentorship in the distant reaches of northern Norway, where she reports to the reclusive artist Nils (Fridtjov Såheim), who clearly sees her as hired help. It looks like it’s going to be a miserable experience, but Frances soldiers through the work and eventually finds a way forward.

The Sunlit Night kind of defies genre. It’s vaguely comedic, but that’s an impression less rooted in laugh-out-loud humor than the casting of talent like Slate, Zach Galifianakis (as a Viking from Ohio), and Gillian Anderson (wasted in an underwritten role that amounts to a Russian accent). It’s more of a coming-of-age dramedy, and it works fairly well, thanks to Slate’s appealing performance, a calm, thoughtful approach, and eye-popping Scandinavian scenery. It not’s overly ambitious or impressive, but it makes for a light, pleasant watch.


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