Though treading a similar path to Ted Demme’s Beautiful Girls or Zach Braff’s Garden State, this tale of heading home to face old demons remains just as sprightly thanks to some sparkling turns by a trio of young actors and Mac McCaughan’s summery soundtrack.
When wanderer Will (Lukas Haas) returns home after more than five years away without word he’s welcomed suspiciously at first by his family, his former childhood best friend turned novelist Daniel (Adam Scott) and his estranged wife Maggie (Molly Parker). With some home truths to confront, not to mention an explanation of where he’s been all those years, Will’s return hints at some darker stirrings which forced him to leave in the first place; ones he must confront if he’s to stay for good.
Opting for a lighter more comic route rather than drama, Bissonnette’s second feature dwells on the theme of relationships, fidelity and friendship with a light touch. When the reason for Will’s sudden departure soon emerges it’s clear there’s a level of self-centred hedonism to these young adults, which their closeness has encouraged.
While that makes it hard to root for anyone in particular, besides the more fragile Will, it ensures each part of the triangle remains different. Daniel is brash, arrogant and carefree, Maggie is the playful but torn temptress and Will the downbeat sensitive soul. There’s no weak performance here at all.
While all three have gone onto greater things; Haas in Inception, Scott in Knocked Up and Parker in The Road, their combined talents and chemistry here reveal a level of realism that’s easy to relate to as spiralling events upturn some surprises from some unexpected quarters that make each re-evaluate their attitude to each other. Set against a beautifully photographed Ontario country backdrop which remains as bright as the stars themselves, Bissonnette clearly gets the best from his cast, no doubt making him one to watch.
However, while shows such as The OC explored adult relationships just as much as the younger characters, Bissonnette clearly feels a little out of his depth here. Utilising them instead merely to make relevant points at key plot moments, he’s happier to deal with the consequences for his younger trio instead, even if that means glossing over some major emotional upheaval at the same time.
All of which means that, while not groundbreaking, Who Loves The Sun is an admirable addition to the ever-growing canon of “heading back home” nostalgia films, Probably best watched on a warm summer’s evening to soak it up.