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Heat and Sunlight Reviews

Powerful, disturbing, excruciatingly honest and occasionally hilarious, HEAT AND SUNLIGHT is an extraordinary film from Rob Nilsson, one of America's most important independent filmmakers. It focuses on the final 16 hours of a collapsing love affair that begins on the eve of the 40th birthday of Mel Hurley (Nilsson), a photojournalist who returns to San Francisco after an assignment, expecting to be met by his dancer-choreographer girlfriend, Carmen (Consuelo Faust). Her failure to appear confirms his suspicions that she is having an affair. Consumed by jealousy, Mel begins to withdraw into himself, periodically flashing back 17 years to his impassioned attempts to use his camera to bring attention to the starvation that devastated Biafra during the final days of its unsuccessful struggle for national liberation. With him now as then, his best friend (Don Bajema) tries to persuade Mel to confront Carmen with his fears rather than sink into anguished, self-destructive isolation. From beginning to end, HEAT AND SUNLIGHT vibrates with stunningly real emotions, its characters so believable and its sense of poignant intimacy so all-encompassing that one hesitates to talk about performances. At the film's center, Nilsson delivers an astonishingly honest and passionate portrayal of a man driven by jealousy and insecurity to the breaking point, his pain so real that at times it becomes difficult to watch. Means and ends are so closely related in HEAT AND SUNLIGHT that they must be evaluated in terms of Nilsson's "direct-action cinema" technique, in which most of the dialogue and many of the situations are improvised. Nilsson's freewheeling visual approach is as indebted to video technology as it is to the documentary style of his cinema verite predecessors. (HEAT AND SUNLIGHT was recorded on videotape and blown up to 35mm.) The result is an amazingly moving, wholly believable, visually dazzling study of passion, rage, jealousy, compassion and friendship that may not be for everyone but that will be unforgettable for many.