Sunshine Periphery Movie Review
Spiritually challenging and gorgeously filmed, filmmaker Eric J. Liddle’s short film Sunshine Periphery is as pondering as it is preposterous. It’s a road trip style movie but rather than an A to B by the way of X, Y, and Z classic structure, we are presented with an erratic journey within one man’s consciousness that is equally full of wrong turns, strange destinations, and oddball characters. Gabriel Tauber plays our leading man Jonny, described as an apathetic guy experiencing a surrealist fever dream, he traverses the unwelcoming landscape of the desert, meeting Grim (Matthew Greenaway) who offers him riddles and life lessons, as well as a piano to play and red wine to drink. The two ponder Jonny’s existential crisis, looking for fresh perspectives on whatever event has led to this breakdown. At first, Jonny is unreceptive to the swiftly changing nature of his experience but comes to find a calm clarity in the journey, even when he finds himself on a road to a new, unknown destination with Kin (Lary Muller). Eric J. Liddle presented a short film in 2018 called Mister Swolo that has a lot in common with Sunshine Periphery. Both have a penchant for the bizarre and both are happy to play with character and structure in order to offer the audience something fairly unique. What is brilliant to see is that Liddle has seriously upped his game in terms of filmmaking here. The quality of the shoot, the performances, the sound, and the simply glorious editing, make this a huge leap in terms of direction. One particular highlight sees the camera dissolve a black coffee into a sequence of Jonny playing the piano which was absolutely sumptuous to watch. Tauber is on excellent form here considering it’s his first credited performance. He approaches the role with the noticeable bewilderment needed to draw the audience into this dreamscape whilst developing over the course of the narrative into something more interesting and, even more, formidable. Muller and Greenaway offer decent supporting performances (if a little stilted with the dialogue at times) but it is Gabriel Tauber’s arresting vulnerability which becomes the beating heart of the piece. As with any experimental movie, Sunshine Periphery won’t be everyone’s goblet of red wine. There is a challenging nature to the script which some viewers may not be up for. However, those wishing to throw themselves into the journey and grapple with the hefty themes of life’s meaning will find plenty to see along the way. What’s more, it could even change your own outlook as long as you are willing to take things step by step, at the pace life intends.