Arriving at a Normandy chateau, Englishman Bernard (Gethin Anthony) seems lost and pensive. His partner is pregnant, and this is clearly no good thing. He exits his car and immediately finds himself wrong-footed by perky estate agent Maggie (Cara Theobold): he’s scouting film locations, and she knows the place well.

What follows is much dialogue generally encircling the chateau’s one-time resident, the Enlightenment essayist Fontenelle, and the various cosmological implications of his Conversations on the Plurality of Worlds. The use of a prolonged dramatic dialogue to reflect an existing philosophic-literary dialogue is cutesy but promising; only promising, though, because the actual dialogue here overworked by screenwriter Jonathan Kiefer is precious, unnatural and becomes increasingly unpleasant to listen to.

This is a shame, because proceeding from Kiefer’s dialogue and the narrative games he plays—shifting the characters through various alternative versions of their day together, and configurations of personality and experience—provides the film an unappealing awkwardness. Anthony and Theobold are talented actors, and their natural charisma shines through. But the script’s staginess rubs off, and there is an overly declarative manner here that—though obviously attuned to the project’s playful concept—derails any sense of immersion.

Cinematic comparisons abound: the Before films, Kiarostami’s Certified Copy, certain works of Rohmer, Resnais and Greenaway. But director Oliver Krimpas often downplays any expressive sense, and the moments that do tingle with the joy of creative discovery and inchoate visual beauty coincide with those where the dialogue strips down and the actors are allowed to convince.

Mostly, the fundamental issue remains: this is a philosophically-driven idea that hasn’t applied its high concepts to any particular cinematic vision. Around the Sun shows spark, and its creators could no doubt do well in future, but its genial intellectual curiosity never quite finds form.



CAST: Cara Theobold, Gethin Anthony

DIRECTOR: Oliver Krimpas

WRITER: Jonathan Kiefer

SYNOPSIS: Touring a repossessed chateau, a film location scout falls for its flirtatious representative, who recounts the story of an influential book written there. But is their connection for real, or just a projection of the book’s characters?