A Sun 陽光普照 (2019) - Taiwan
Reviewed by Andrew Chan (Film Critics Circle of Australia)
In the 5th feature film from Taiwanese Director Chung Mong-Hong (“Parking” and “Godspeed”), “A Sun” is a difficult yet rewarding film to sit through with its epic 156 minutes running time. It’s one of those enduring journey filled with broken family dynamics, coming of age, growing up and dealing with relationships and work. It’s a mature outing from Chung as he slowly allows the audience to witness the backstory and what’s going on in the preceding in real-time effect. This is not a film for a simple night out, but one that requires emotional investment and plenty of thought provoking moments to embrace.
The film focuses on the story of a dysfunctional family. Chen Yi-wen plays the father and driving instructor whose tag line of “seize the day” contrast directly with his often stubborn personality and obvious favouritism of the smarter son (played by Xu Guang-Han). Samantha Ko plays the mother and hairdresser who keeps herself sane as she runs through between this broken family. The core of the film comes in the form of Wu Chien-Ho whose failure in life takes a turn to prison and even manages to bear a child with 15 years old girl (played by Wu Dai-Ling) and involve with nobody gangster (played rather comically by Liu Kuan-Ting). The best thing about the film comes in the downright pitch perfect natural performances all round from the ensemble cast.
All in all, “A Sun” portrays a certain layer of emotions between people, mostly how we deal with difficult circumstances that life throws at us constantly and unpredictably. It also emphasise on choice and how and what we do have dire consequences. The father and son backstory is wonderfully crafted by screenwriters Mong-Hong and Chang Yaosheng, and by the end of the film, we would have gone through a range of emotions, but not disconnected from the process. It’s one of those enduring journey that feels real and authentic in its execution.
I rated it 8.5/10
A Sun is streaming on Netflix.