Based on the novel of the same name by Rebecca Dinerstein, who also wrote
the screenplay for the film, The Sunlit Night is a story about how far
(literally) a person might go in order to find themselves.
The person in this case is budding American painter Frances (Jenny Slate)
who, after having her most recent painting torn to shreds by a trio of
pompous critics and finding that her elderly parents (David Paymer and
Jessica Hecht) are planning on divorcing, heads to Norway to take up a
painting job as an apprentice to a bad tempered and hard drinking artist called
Nils (Fridtjov Saheim).
When she gets there she quickly discovers that it’s not quite as glamorous
as she thought it might be, the painting that she’s asked to do involves a
giant painting by numbers project where a barn is the artists canvas, and
instead of the bright lights of Oslo she’s stuck in a caravan in the middle
of nowhere with only a few goats and the employees of the local Viking
museum, which is bizarrely run by an American (Zach Galifianakis), for
The Sunlight Night is a mostly a fish out of water story, which sees
Frances adapting to her new environments, blended with a strange subplot
that sees Gillian Anderson, in a very small cameo, popping up as the
Russian mother of a young American (Alex Sharp) who turns up in the area in
order to give his dead father, and her husband, the Viking funeral that he
The Sunlit Night’s slow moving often pedestrian storyline won’t be for
everyone, however a fine performance from Jenny Slate, some beautiful
photography of the Norwegian countryside and some genuinely touching
moments just about do enough to make The Sunlit Night an enjoyable watch.