Next time someone asks what is good on Netflix, you might want to direct them to this winner who has been lurking since January 2020. A winner of the Golden Horse Awards and now on the shortlist for the Oscar for International Feature Film, Sun It is a daring tale that includes a tale of crime, punishment, tragedy and healing – all within a seemingly ordinary family of four in Taiwan.
Trouble and the movie begins when a teenager known as A-ho (Wu Chien-Ho) breaks into a restaurant with Radish, who uses a machete. We learn later that A-ho thinks they will frighten a boy named Oden, but the radish takes another step and cuts Oden’s hand, tossing it into a pot of hot, fresh soup. This movie clearly means business. But while the opening contains the violence and flourishing of gangster thrillers, writer and director Chung Maung Hong (parking) It takes a more thoughtful approach to the resulting anxiety. After sending A-ho to the juvenile detention center, we spent many years with this family, witnessing key moments of their suffering, both behind bars and at home with father, mother and older brother A-Hao (Hsu Kuang-Han).
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Glimpses of dark humor appear throughout the film. Father A-Wen (Chen Yi-Wen) works as a lead coach, providing a rich comedic ground even before Oden’s father arrives with a septic truck that sprays faeces at A-Wen and his colleagues. A-ho explains the hitting process to his cellmate in terms he can understand: selling different amounts of amphetamine bags, or suffering a certain amount of stab wounds. The ghost of crime looms large mostly in the background SunBut it contributes to an overall feeling of discomfort and impending death, as well as the dreadful end nearing.
As with all of his films since then parkingDirector Chung also works as a cinematographer under the pseudonym Nagao Nakashima. The results are amazing but can be distractingly flashy. The camera creeps into rooms and people like a stalker, sinking into their intimate orbit like a knife. A lingering shot at a group of birds in formation, or animals in a zoo – one would imagine a lot of time spent waiting for nature or surprise. Light and Shadow are the key: Several of the shots present both, and play a role in the event that led to the title Sun.
Many key moments involve communication or lack of it. Father A-won initially refused to come to the court session to speak on his son’s behalf. He reluctantly turns up – then urges the judge to remove the boy. He hates discussing personal matters so much that he complains about friendly, educated drivers, calling them “women of curiosity and gossip”. When pressed, he tells them he only has one son: Paramedic A-Hao, intelligent, kind, and likely. But it turns out that A-Hao has had issues with communication, too.
A-Wen’s wife, Qin (Samantha Ko) feels more comfortable discussing emotional matters, but only women seem to listen. Some touching conversation scenes pair her with younger women entering family life. It’s revealing and emotionally charged, backed by Ku’s disparate performance. A-Ho largely keeps his emotions in check, which implicitly contributes to his imprisonment. The last scenes when father and son finally open up are powerful, but they may not be what you expect. Sun He succeeds in surprising the audience – and anyone who happens across this on Netflix will definitely be in for a surprise.