Yang Guang Pu Zhao/ A Sun (2019)

A Sun is a Taiwanese drama signed by Chung Mong-Hong and which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in September 2019. This film was Taiwan’s candidate in the category of foreign films at the Oscars and managed to enter the shortlist of fifteen films. Chung got the idea for the script when a childhood friend told him how he cut off someone’s hand in his youth, and that is exactly the first scene you will see in this film.

The plot follows a dysfunctional family in which A-Ho, the younger son, has always been a problematic child, so his father Chen, a driving school instructor, invested his hopes in his older son, the introverted A-Hao. While A-Ho is facing juvenile detention for an act committed with his best friend, A-Hao is trying to enroll in medical school. Chen refuses to help his younger son and even asks the judge to punish him as harshly as possible. Shortly after A-Ho was sent to prison, to make matters worse, his pregnant 15-year-old girlfriend appears on the doorstep…

While one son is exemplary, attractive, adaptable and makes everyone around him proud, the other could be considered a parental disappointment – he has attached himself to bad company, is temperamental and causes problems. As in the film Waves, which was released in the same year, as the story progresses, the one who grew up in the shadow of a golden child, the object of significantly greater parental attention and hope, comes to the fore. Unexpectedly, the one who was (un) intentionally put aside is put in a position to be some new hope of the family, and the parents find themselves in a situation to reconsider their prejudices and everything they have done in life.

The characters that make up the family are very richly and well written, convincingly acted and in each of them there is much more than would be said at first glance. The dramatic potential of family dynamics is excellent material for a film, and I think there is no need to complicate it with unexpected plots. A Sun took a simple premise that has a universal character, and that is that parents did not treat their children equally, which brought with it direct consequences. The author understands this premise and his characters, we see how the fragile family balance is disturbed and, finally, what all the parents are ready to do for their child.

The script is full of interesting, quite ordinary, but also unexpected interactions between the characters whose behavior and reactions we understand. The second half of the film, when the plot has moved for three years and when A-Ho’s friend is released from prison, gradually turns from drama to crime, and thus increases the level of parental care. Although the emphasis is on the family, the script raises questions such as whether we can change our impression of people and whether they are essentially ready for change. Certainly the most important quality of the script is that it has made people we really care about from relatively unsympathetic characters.

Also, I liked that the author is generally restrained in what he represents, there are no directorial acrobatics, but everything is somehow measured and moderate, as if each shot violates family intimacy. This is supported by generally minimalist music that subtly emphasizes the emotions that take place on the screen. I have to admit that the script didn’t completely avoid the melodramatic elements, but they didn’t bother me, and it possesses a few effective, unexpected comic scenes.

A Sun is a complex and poetic combination of family and crime drama that comes to us from Taiwan – a mature film that radiates emotional strength and a real recommendation for fans of the genre.

my final grade: 9/10

Source: The Filmske Recenzije by filmskerecenzije.com.

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