Essentially a duologue set in one location, indie romance Around the Sun has the feel of a play. Centred on the meeting between Bernard (Gethin Anthony), a film location scout, and Maggie (Cara Theobald), the representative of an uninhabited French mansion, the story takes place over a few hours, depicting their unusual and unexpected connection. They warm to one another immediately, discussing careers, past relationships, and current problems in their lives. However, it’s when they discuss the mansion’s famous past inhabitant – French writer Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle – that the film introduces a new element.
In an odd twist introduced at the climax of the first scene, the film picks up the time loop trope from the likes of Groundhog Day, Edge of Tomorrow, and About Time but treats it a little more subtly. Rather than the same day in repeat, Maggie and Bernard’s bond seems to span multiple realities. Of course, this is all inspired by Fontenelle’s most famous work, Conversations on the Plurality of Worlds, which contemplates philosophical and astronomical ideas about multiverses and existence. The characters discuss the book – in detail – and the film follows its lead, taking unusual turns in plot and structure, suddenly demanding that we engage on a much more cerebral level.
It’s a strange mix – philosophical musings, metaphysics, and romance – and it doesn’t combine to pull off much genuine emotional impact. Visually the film is pleasant, if a little unadventurous, with the gentle piano-led score a standout feature. It’s certainly an interesting premise and it does feel fresh, but Maggie and Bernard’s multiverse-spanning connection veers into navel-gazing and it’s not particularly clear what the audience should be rooting for. Ultimately, Around the Sun is more of an experiment in narrative structure than a film to be swept up in.
Available to stream on-demand now.