ReviewWriter: Cammy ZulkifliWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects:
NACinematography: Watch this if you liked:
"The Sun Also Rises" is a unique compilation of spellbinding stories that fulfils the discerning taste bud. Its unusual account of love and life from various perspectives is nothing groundbreaking, but when set upon the backdrop of 1970's rural China, it becomes a journey that's both inspiring and maniacally twisted at the same time.
The film tries hard to emphasise its 'art film' label, which predominantly comes from its poetic script. The dialogue is never brash, or rushed, but instead rests on emotion and atmosphere to create lingering sensation.
It begins in 1976 Southern China, where a young widow (Zhou Yun) and her son (Jaycee Chan) spend their quiet lives in a small village hidden from the rest of the world. After losing a pair of her coveted embroidered shoes, the widow goes mad and revels in a bit of unusual behaviour. One day, when the son returns from picking up a husband and wife in the village, his mother disappears and we cut to the next piece of the story's puzzle.
In Eastern China on a college campus in the summer of 1976, Teacher Liang (Anthony Wong) and Uncle Tang (director Jiang Wen) mingle in ardour with a woman named Doctor Lin (Joan Chen). Though Doctor Lin is involved exclusively with Tang, she suppresses a disturbing sort of obsession for Liang. The campus is shaken one day when cries of a molester were heard, and again we cut to the next set...
Back in Southern China in autumn the same year, the two tales interweave when we learn that the husband and wife whom the now motherless son picked up in the first segment of the story is Tang and his wife. In a cloudy turn of events, the boy indulges in an illicit affair with Tang's wife, which leads to a tragic end.
The final set is really the first, as we are taken back to 1958 where the biggest revelation lies. Every character has crossed paths at certain junctures of their lives, and while their predestined connection links them together, the story is written so as to not let them collide or influence one another. Some scenes are difficult to comprehend or make sense of but it only provides more replay value.
The film moves at a snail's pace from beginning to end, giving room for you to appreciate the little things but the impatient lot will be rolling in their seats from unforgiving restlessness. At the second part of the story you are already wondering when or how the characters are interconnected, and waiting for the answer will feel like the longest period of your life. Despite the painfully slow tempo, the backdrop of rural China is breathtaking - including that of the barren Gobi Desert and the panoramic view of the mountains - and the superb performances by an all-star cast are the film's biggest virtues.
Probing everything from birth, relationships, lust and in the end, death, "The Sun Also Rises" is an illustrious compilation of anecdotes and bittersweet disclosure that floats you to a unifying end. Its message is silently powerful and the impact is soul searching, which teeters between the brink of drunk and unforgettable. Not for the easily distracted, only attempt to watch this when you're free of your little miseries or the pace will certainly test your patience. This is one movie that you shouldn't try to understand, but just try to 'feel'.Cinema Online, 23 September 2008