Seize The Day
A Sun is a simple tale (albeit a rather long one) about a fractured family attempting to heal past wounds through a tragedy that brings everyone together. When you dive a little deeper however, this Asian film has multiple layers hidden within its aesthetic, themes and underlying message that make it a profound and wonderful cinematic blockbuster.
The story wastes no time getting right to the heart of the drama. Trouble-maker Chieng Jang-Ho (or A-Ho as he’s more commonly known as) is thrown into a Juvenile Centre after chopping a boy’s hand off in vicious fashion. It’s the last straw for his Father A-Wen who refuses to acknowledge his existence and pours all of his efforts into his “perfect” brother A-Hao instead. When tragedy suddenly strikes, the fractured family attempts to heal and move past their painful differences, culminating in a two-act structure – one that sees the second half of the film jump forward 3 years as the past continues to loom in the shadows.
To give much more away would be a disservice to the story but it’s worth persevering with this one as the slow pacing and long-cuts make this a tough sell, especially during the first 45 minutes or so where the characters are introduced and the pacing slows to a snail’s crawl. If you can stick it out, A Sun opens up in the best possible way, bringing with it some really powerful messages around healing, forgiveness and inner-peace that ripples through much of the picture.
Aesthetically, the sun is a consistent metaphor here, especially after A-Hao’s emotional speech about this bright star and quite why it’s so profound at the halfway point of the picture. From here on out every scene takes on a whole new meaning. Scenes regularly use a clever dose of shade and light, bathing some characters in shadow while others are picturesque and gleaming in the bright sunlight. This also spills effortlessly into one of the other themes here – good and evil. While not quite as profound and poignant as that of healing (especially given the dominating colour green used a lot of the way through the first hour), the second half of the film certainly plays with this idea in a big way.
There’s some wonderful compositional tricks used here too, using the aforementioned shade and sunlight to paint a much deeper portrait of what’s going on. Seeing everything we’ve learnt come together during the final scenes of the film is an incredibly powerful moment that brings everything together in the most beautiful way. Well-acted, profoundly deep and thematically poignant, A Sun is a brilliant film and one that’s perfect fodder to dissect and discuss. A Sun absolutely justifies it’s 150 minute run-time and while it may not be the best film of the year, nor will it get the attention it perhaps deserves, it’s another example of just how strong Asian cinema is right now compared to Hollywood.
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Verdict - 8.5/10