Tuesday, December 11, 2007
The Sun Also Rises (太阳照常升起)
It has been seven years since Chinese actor/director Jiang Wen (姜文) made his last film: "Devils on the Doorstep" ("鬼子来了"). Wait no more. His newest film "The Sun Also Rises" ("太阳照常升起", China 2007, 116 min.) is a solid piece of art, even it's not as superb as his master piece "Devils on the Doorstep."
"The Sun Also Rises" contains loosely connected four stories: "Madness (疯)," "Amativeness (恋)," "Gun (枪)," and "Dream (梦)."
In "Madness (疯)," Jaycee Chan plays a son who tries his best to make sense of his mad mother's behavior and to protect her from getting harmed.
In "Gun (枪)," Jiang Wen is exiled to the small village where Jaycee Chan lives with his mad mom in "Madness (疯)." Jiang Wen hunts with a group of children everyday. But one day, he discovers a secret that changes his relationship with Jaycee Chan.
In "Dream (梦)," all these characters come together in the Gobi Desert, but eighteen years earlier than the previous stories. It reveals the origins of these characters, in a dream like setting.
The opening of the film has the trait of humor similar to "Devils on the Doorstep," but the playful style disappeared later in the film. Joan Chen's character is the most hilarious one among all the characters. She gives her best performance in years. Knowing the film Joan Chen was watching in this film makes the entire episode even funnier.
However, Jaycee Chan runs around a little bit too much like his father. His Taiwanese accent is very distracting and distances himself from his character. Liu Ye (刘烨) would have been great for this role, even he is a little older.
Watching this film is like reading poetry, but in cinema. I am totally captivated by the enthralling atmosphere and mysterious characters created by rich visual and fascinating imagination. I do not expect the logic behind the happenings in the film fully explained, nor question why Jaycee Chan bares his butt in the film. It's the same reason that I do not read a poem to be read like a novel.
The correct translation of the film title "太阳照常升起" should be "The Sun Rises as Usual," which obviously has a different meaning from "The Sun Also Rises." I believe if the title were translated correctly, it would express director Jiang Wen's vision better. Survived from the madness during the Cultural Revolution, we all see hope when the sun seems rising as usual.