The Sun Also Rises is a disappointing mess. True, images of the sprawling Gobi Desert and the dazzling Shangri-La of Yuunan look stunning on the big screen but the story is impossible to follow and its frantic characters are annoying to watch. Loosely inspired by the novel Velvet by Ye Mi, the film weaves together four stories that span decades. Good luck following them though.
The movie opens with a young widow (Zhou Yun) and her only son (Jaycee Chan), who look the same age. "Mom has a pair of magic shoes in the shape of fish that let her disappear into the local river. Im not sure why. The second story takes place at a university on the eve of the Cultural Revolution, in which Chinas youth persecuted countless intellectuals and professionals. A romantic triangle develops between teachers Liang (Anthony Wong), Tang (director Jiang Wen) and the flirtatious doctor Lin (a sexy Joan Chen) but its treated like a comic book and wastes the fine talents of Wong (Infernal Affairs) and Chen.
Eventually, Tang is forced into exile, arriving at the same village where the too-young widow lives. His arrival unveils the films third tale, which unleashes some vague story about magic velvet. Somehow that triggers the last story, which journeys back in time to the breathtaking Gobi Desert. Supposedly all the stories connect at the end, but in reality leave the audience scratching its head.
The Sun Also Rises is supposed to be an epic tale of magic realism but its really a shallow piece of filmmaking where characters running around at top volume are supposed to amount to drama. Nothing makes sense here and nothing charms. What was TIFF thinking? (Emperor Motion Pictures)