Sunshine movie poster
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Sunshine Movie Review

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The English Patient and an interesting story. Sunshine is a burst of bright light on the struggling serious drama genre. Sunshine is one of the best movies I've seen in years.

Halfway through the three hour movie, I was beginning to realize that I was watching a candidate for Best Picture of 2001. Sunshine has great acting, a great story, and deep meaning. Its pace never slows for the entirety of its length, which is quite amazing, and Ralph Fiennes pulls off three different characters beautifully. Unfortunately, I then found out that Sunshine was originally released in 1999, so screw the Best Picture talk.

Nevertheless, if you haven't seen Sunshine yet, you need to go to the video store now and rent it. It is amazingly well done.

The movie starts out at the end of the 19th century, where one young man is trying to move up in the courts in Hungary, but he is cautioned that with his Jewish heritage, it might be a problem. How much of himself is he willing to sacrifice to advance in the world? The next generation has the son of that man working his way to stardom in the fencing arena, but again the Jewish religion is holding him back. To be great, he must denounce his religion. And then, another generation arrives, and this time the son is a Communist, but to what lengths is he willing to go to for the Party? Sunshine is a tale of sacrifices, of love, and of many other things. It perfectly blends realistic romance with a hundred year story that takes on politics, religion, and everything else. The best part about the movie is that it does not try to entertain the audience; it simply does. The movie flows continuously with a beauty I haven't seen in a long time.

As already mentioned, the acting is fabulous. Ralph Fiennes (The English Patient) is superb, starring as three generations of son that face the same challenges in different contexts. Each character is drastically different in beliefs and attitudes (the second one being somewhat of a jerk) and despite their similar appearances, Fiennes is especially good at making each man seem like his own self. Over the timeline, the cast changes, but not in quality. From Rosemary Harris to Rachel Weisz to Deborah Unger to William Hurt, the acting is tremendous. I was especially impressed with Rachel Weisz, who turned in a somewhat lackluster performance earlier in 2001 with Ralph's brother, Joseph.

Sunshine is a brilliant and well done movie, with very holes along the way. The acting is terrific and the story never spends too much time dwelling on the well known historical incidents (although the concentration camp scene is horrifically mesmerizing). The movie seems like real life, and that is what is so great about it.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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