Main cast: Ralph Fiennes (Ignatz “Sors” Sonnenschein/Adam Sors/Ivan Sors), Rosemary Harris (Older Valerie Sors), Rachel Weisz (Greta Sors), Jennifer Ehle (Younger Valerie Sonnenschein), Deborah Kara Unger (Maj Carole Kovács), Molly Parker (Hannah Wippler), James Frain (Younger Gustave Sonnenschein), David de Keyser (Emanuel Sonnenschein), John Neville (Older Gustave Sors), Miriam Margolyes (Rose Sonnenschein), Rudiger Vogler (General Jakofalvy), Mark Strong (István Sors), Bill Paterson (Minister of Justice), Trevor Peacock (Comrade Gen Kope), and William Hurt (Andor Knorr)
Director: István Szabó
Sunshine tells the story of three generations of the Hungarian-Jewish family of Sunshine from the pre-World War 1 to the bloody aftermath of World War 2. But the entire epic feel of the movie goes haywire due to repetitive plotlines and a strange tendency of the story to focus on Ralph Fiennes’s admittedly appealing butt.
The first generation tells the story of Ignátz Sunshine who changes his family name to Sors to be a prominent judge. He marries his cousin, and later becomes a war general in WW1 – a move that would cost him his family.
The second story is Adam who converts to Christianity to be admitted into the elité military fencing club. He becomes an Olympic gold medalist only to die in a concentration camp later when the Nazi regime seizes Austria-Hungary.
And his son Ivan becomes a prominent militant who prosecutes the Nazi relentlessly only to lose everything when his ideology comes into conflict with the Communist party.
See a pattern there? Three men too overzealous to the point that they mistake their own ideology for that of their countries and suffer from it. I’d think Mama Sunshine who was Ignátz’s wife would tell her son and grandson not to repeat her husband’s error, but no. Hence, by the time Ivan’s story comes on, I’m bored stiff. There he goes on, just like his grandfather and father.
Likewise, these men’s relationship with their women are as realistic as elephants flying to Mars on a paper plane. Ralph Fiennes is charming and seductive, and his butt sure is drool-worthy, but the whole relationship three times over is meet, boink, marriage. No character development whatsoever and I have no idea what makes these women tick.
And there is also a strange tendency of the story to focus on trivial scenes. Major scenes – death of prominent family members, for instance – are mentioned in passing via a voice-over, but I am subjected to gruelling, graphic love scenes. No matter how good Ralph Fiennes looks naked, I’m suffering from utmost boredom when the movie drags into its third hour.
Sunshine is long, lumbering, and tedious. It may aspire to be wartime flick, but it should’ve just dropped its pretensions and get down to what it really wants to be – a three-hour ogle-fest of the fine butt of its main actor.