The Sunset Limited (2011)

Published: Apr 2, 2012 |Updated: Mar 16, 2023


Nothing is ever black or white.

Genre Drama
Production year 2011
Director Tommy Lee Jones
Male actors Tommy Lee Jones, Samuel L. Jackson

The Sunset Limited: Nothing is Ever Black or White

The Sunset Limited: Nothing is Ever Black or White (2011)

The Sunset Limited, a film by HBO®, began airing this past February (2011). I happened upon it randomly when channel surfing one night. I was immediately engaged and scheduled a recording on my DVR.

The movie is adapted from the Cormack McCarthy play that opened in Chicago in 2006. McCarthy also wrote No Country for Old Men and the initiatory tale, All the Pretty Horses.

Starring Tommy Lee Jones as “White” and Samuel L. Jackson as “Black,” the movie takes place entirely in Black’s spartan apartment. We are thrust into the action after the opening credits and are not allowed escape until the ambiguous end. White and Black are the only two characters. The apartment is the only set. God is the only topic.

White is a college professor whose search for meaning and purpose has come to an end. His suicide attempt is interrupted by Black, an ex-con street preacher. The film literally revolves around the two as they witness to each other. Black feels compelled to help White. Black refuses to let White leave his apartment until his dark mood is diffused. They spar the entire 91 minutes of the movie with deadly seriousness and real moments of humor.

Discussion Questions for Group Viewing:

Are you sympathetic to White? I felt the movie was stacked against him. I strongly identified with his experience in a scientific, secular world. Is he to blame for not finding God? How have you found God in your life?

What was God’s purpose in this encounter? Was it the obvious need to convert White? What did it have to do with Black?

What do you think happens after the film ends?

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