There are two types of films about the apocalypse. The first type takes place long after the apocalypse happens, and focuses on whatever the new world humanity has created looks like. The second focuses on the apocalyptic event itself and how people deal with both the physical and existential crises that arise from knowing that nothing will ever be the same.
While I love both types, I’ve always been more of a fan of the latter approach. A person’s character is never clearer than when they’re in crisis. You see the selfish and the altruistic. The optimists and the pessimists. Those who decide they will hunker down and wait for someone to save them, and those that take action to save themselves.
This is the type of movie that LAST SUNRISE is, and it’s honestly one of the best I’ve ever seen.
LAST SUNRISE takes place in a near future where solar power is perfected to the point that it accounts for over 95% of the world’s power grid. This leads to overwhelming peace and prosperity. However, when the sun somehow disappears from the sky, it plunges the world into darkness and the power quickly runs out. This film follows an antisocial astronomer who is determined to discover what happened and his excitable neighbor who tags along for the ride. Together they encounter people who cope with the end of the world in every way imaginable, and they must decide what’s really important to them in this new world.
I truly admire LAST SUNRISE for its ambition in tackling an apocalyptic event with such a broad lens, while still giving time to show the emotional depth and development of its main characters. Often you will either see a very narrowly focussed character film which ignores the larger questions of what is happening in the world, or a film that views the end of the world from a wide vantage point but leaves its characters as one-dimensional sketches. In this film, you get to see long discussions of exactly what caused this mess and what the future will look like, but you also get to see the main characters go through all the stages of fighting and accepting their new reality.
I compare this film a lot to Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, just with less absurd comedy. The journey the characters take is very similar, and so is the depth of the emotional bond that develops. By the end, you are left hoping against all logic that things will turn out okay.
Finally, I should probably note just how strikingly beautiful this film is. The digitally rendered sky with no sun or powered lights is absolutely breathtaking. They obviously spared no expense on this film from every level of production. If this was made in Hollywood starring Chris Evans and Brie Larson it would be a billion-dollar blockbuster. As it is, it may be difficult to find it distributed in North America. But I highly recommend you make the effort to see it.