“Unforeseen yet seldom fortuitous” is a phrase that could be used to describe the array of events that take place in A Sun. This visually stunning Taiwanese film is written and directed by Mong-Hong Chung and has been co-written by Yaoshen Chang. It is originally titled Yangguang Puzhao.
Why the makers wanted to keep the title of this intense crime drama as “A Sun“, could be explained through faceted perspectives. There are very few things in life that could be said to be fair and just in their entirety. There always exists that corrupt faction that lures the balance towards one side. There is a scene where Greg Han Hsu who plays A-Hao says that the sun is the fairest of all, as it shines equally on everybody. I think that the film uses it as a symbolic representation of the shield, often referred to as “parents.” Sometimes I sit and try to understand this basic and often taken-for-granted attribute that comes from being a parent. The logic fades and well the analytics is of no use. Human behavior and the scientific data backing it do not apply to the realm of parenthood. A parent is ready to go to any lengths when it comes to the well-being of their offsprings. They form an impermeable umbrella. They bear the heat so that the little one is nurtured in the shade.
Throughout the film, I was under the dilemma, who’s story is it finally going to become. I tried to make my own assumptions about where it is leading. Will it be about an underdog or the dark horse. Will it be about resilience or stubbornness. Will it be an extravagant story about serendipity or ill-fated doom. But to my surprise, it came out to be a story about the power of selflessness that we often underestimate. It became a story about sacrifice and a watchful protector who would be mocked instantly if told so in public, as the idea of a vigilante was completely inconsistent with the image it held.
Squall and Drenched
Generally, the story starts from a bud and then gently flowers, exhibiting all its colors, and captivating our attention. It takes us to a make-believe world. A successful film is capable of making a viewer associate with that world in ways that are multifold, even if he or she possesses a totally different set of sensibilities. In the film A Sun, this is not a gradual process. It takes you by shock. It shakes you from within and plays with your expectations. It plays with the defined pattern. It bamboozles you, deludes you, misleads you, and makes sure you can’t flinch even for a second. It’s like a Venus Flytrap. It opens its tentacle, frightening you, and then gradually closes it to form a canopy enclosing all the darkness.
Light and Darkness
A Sun plays with our perception. Our understanding of right and wrong. It establishes facts just to change them in the end. I realized how fickle human emotions could be. I realized how we are quick enough to judge, based on stereotypes. We don’t even wait for the game to play its course rather start making presumptions without understanding the nature of facts. It’s a human tendency that we as a species abstain from going beyond the surface. We want to gain the maximum benefits without taking the difficult job.
Chien-Ho Wu who plays A-Ho and A-Hao (Greg Han Hsu) his elder brother are a personification of this light and darkness. They themselves feel like that. One is the good son, on whom the parents hoard all their expectations and the other is the one who has lost faith in his own capabilities merely looking at the perceptions others hold for him. But to everybody’s amusement, it doesn’t turn out like that. The parents and even the boys themselves understand how inconsequential this subjectivity of the society can be, that forms its bias based on only what it understands.
A Resilient Figure that Held the Reins
It is so important for someone to hold their nerves in times of chaos. If there is any way that can lead us out of chaos, it is a calm mind that does not give up its prudence in times when everyone is overpowered by emotions.
I love how the director has chosen that figure to be Miss Qin (Samantha Shu-Chin Ko), the mother. When A-Ho is jailed for committing an offense, or when she gets to know that his love interest is expecting a baby which belongs to him, or in any of the advertisements that the family had to face, she is capable of thinking what could be the best thing that could be done from thereon. She accepts the ill fate and tries to make things better by moving forward, rather than crying over what’s done. She is that pivot, that centerpiece that holds everything together.
A dark horse
The writer and the director not only play with the storyline and the general perceptions we have to create moments of thrill and surprise, but they make use of such staple character traits to break the stereotype and henceforth make a revelation that no one expected.
Of late much of the cinema has been suffering from the vice of generalization. Though as artists I expect them to be devoid of such sinful traits. But in the end, they are a part of this society only. Also, the majority is here to mint money rather than create a piece of art. A thoughtful creator evokes a sense of amazement by merely dwelling in the grey areas rather than quantifying everything as being black or white.
In this particular film, it is as if the director and writer duo mock our fixed pattern of thinking. I believe that’s where A Sun derives its major thrill and suspense from.
The film is a visual treat that would time and again make sure that you’re totally attentive. As soon as you start thinking that the film is moving in a particular direction it thwarts you and takes you to another unexplored alley. The film has its fair share of dingy and dark humor, in places, you would expect it the least. For some, it might be half n hour too long, but then the film does try to complete a full revolution. It’s trying to keep the starting and ending events on a scale and weigh the bigotry of our opinions.
Streaming on Netflix, A Sun is an entertaining ride with a lot of substance and is filled with those little spicules that prickle but in the end, make a far greater point.
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