Date: Jan 24, 2020
By: John Serba
A Sun landed five Golden Horse awards — the Taiwanese version of the Oscars — including a best picture win, prior to its international Netflix release. Director Chung Mong-Hong’s family drama has many components of a “prestige” film: An epic 156-minute runtime, resonant characters and themes, and barely a whiff of comedy. The latter two points are easier to hurdle than the first one, which prompts one to wonder if the movie is strong enough to demand such a mighty long sit.
A SUN: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?
The Gist: Somewhere in Taipei’s middle class exists a typical family, a father, a mother and two sons: Chen (Chen Yi-Wen) is a driving instructor, Qin (Samantha Ko) is a hairdresser, A-Ho (Wu Chien-Ho) is the ne’er-do-well who’s in juvie and A-Hao (Xu Guang-Han) is the do-well studying for his med-school entrance exam. Life happens to them. A lot of life. The end? Of course not. Clean beginnings and endings are fallacies, and we catch this family smack in the thick of domestic struggle.
The film begins with Chen, whose upbeat seize-the-day philosophy contrasts with the bubbling anger inside him. He essentially disowns A-Ho when his delinquency turns disturbingly violent (illustrated in one hell of a doozy of an opening sequence), going so far as to ask the judge to throw the book at the teen so lessons will be learned. It’s pretty clear that A-Hao is his favorite, which angers Qin; she presses her husband to say when he’s actually helped his wayward youngest son, and he has no answer. [FULL STORY]