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"SUNSHINE"
(2000) (Ralph Fiennes, Rosemary Harris) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Moderate Moderate Extreme Heavy Moderate
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild None Minor None Extreme
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Extreme Mild Heavy Heavy Heavy


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: Three generations of Hungarian men contend with anti-Semitism, politics and political upheaval, and the women in their lives over a span of nearly a century.
PLOT:
It's the late 19th century and Emmanuelle Sonnenschein (DAVID DE KEYSER) is a Hungarian Jew who's built a family fortune from a passed-down recipe for an elixir known as "A Taste of Sunshine." With the help of his wife, Rose (MIRIAM MARGOLYES), he's also raised his two sons, Ignatz (RALPH FIENNES) and Gustave (JAMES FRAIN), and their cousin, Valerie (JENNIFER EHLE), to be fine young people. Thus, Emmanuelle's pride is hurt when neither of his sons wishes to continue the family business.

Things become even more contentious when Gustave, a doctor in training, announces that he knows of the love between Ignatz, an aspiring lawyer, and Valerie, a budding photographer, despite them being related. The two eventually marry and have children, the three young adults change their last name to Sors in the belief that it will help their aspirations, and WWI eventually breaks out, all creating more tension in the family.

With time and various characters passing on, Ignatz and Valerie's sons, Adam (RALPH FIENNES) and Istvan (MARK STRONG), are young men with Adam soon becoming a star fencing champion for Hungary during the 1930s. Faced with the same anti-Semitism his father faced, Adam decides to convert to Christianity so as to join a prestigious officer's club and further his fencing career. During his conversion, he meets Hannah Wippler (MOLLY PARKER), a woman who's not only similarly recently converted, but also engaged to another man.

Despite her pending marriage, Adam eventually wins her over and they marry and have children, just like Istvan and his new wife, Greta (RACHEL WEISZ). Things seem great for the families as Adam heads off for the Berlin Olympics, but a later affair and the outbreak of WWII changes everything, especially since the families - no matter their efforts - can't escape their Jewish pasts.

After the war and its devastation on the country and its people, Valerie (ROSEMARY HARRIS), now an old woman, returns home as does Adam's son, Ivan (RALPH FIENNES). Having seen the atrocities committed during the war, Adam soon joins Andor Knorr (WILLIAM HURT), a communist official heading a witch-hunt of sorts looking for Hungarians who assisted the Nazis during the War.

Beginning a covert affair with Carole Kovacs (DEBORAH KARA UNGER), a policewoman married to a powerful political hero, Ivan soon finds his world being turned upside down as political upheaval, family secrets and changes of fortune alter his life and make him reflect on the history of his family in Hungary.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Unless they're fans of someone in the cast, it's not very likely that this three-hour period drama will be of much interest to most kids.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For strong sexuality, and for violence, language and nudity.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • RALPH FIENNES plays three characters in the film, one who's a judge and marries his first cousin that he grew up with, later raping her; another who becomes a champion fencer and has an affair with his sister-in-law; and the third who survives a WWII labor camp, joins the communist party, uses strong profanity, and has an affair with a married woman.
  • DAVID DE KEYSER plays the family patriarch, a proud father and Hungarian Jew who's built a family fortune brewing an elixir.
  • JAMES FRAIN plays Ignatz's quick-tempered brother who doesn't approve of his relationship and marriage to their cousin or defense of his country's governmental practices.
  • JENNIFER EHLE plays the men's cousin who has an affair with Ignatz, eventually marries him and then grows apart from him.
  • RACHEL WEISZ plays Adam's sister-in-law who has an affair with him.
  • ROSEMARY HARRIS plays Valerie as an older woman who's become the family matriarch.
  • WILLIAM HURT plays a communist official heading a witch-hunt of sorts looking for Hungarians who assisted the Nazis during the War.
  • DEBORAH KARA UNGER plays a married policewoman who has an affair with Ivan.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is quick summary of the content found in this drama that's been rated R. Various sexual encounters (often in the form of adulterous affairs or liaisons between adult first cousins) occur and include nudity, movement, related sounds and various positions/techniques including brief male to female oral sex. Some sexually related comments are made and several instances of nonsexual nudity include full frontal and rear male nudity.

    Profanity consists of at least 9 "f" words, while other expletives and colorful phrases are also used. Violence includes a WWII beating and brutal death, a graphic rape, an explosion that kills a man, some wartime footage and some non-lethal violent behavior. Some of those scenes (particularly the first two just mentioned) may be rather unsettling and tense for some viewers.

    Various characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes, including different levels of anti-Semitism. All of the above and more create tense family moments among the many generations of the family that's also known for brewing a popular elixir. As such, various scenes show people drinking in different situations, while several characters also smoke.

    Should the above not answer your concerns about the film's content and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, you may want to take a closer look at our content listings for more specific examples of what occurs in the film.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • A recurring part of the story involves the family's elixir/tonic, "A Taste of Sunshine" (that reportedly nursed people back to health when consumed). We then hear that Emmanuelle opened a Budapest distillery and brewed the tonic.
  • Emmanuelle's family has wine with dinner.
  • People have drinks in a restaurant.
  • After Rose seemingly passes out (not from drinking), she's given some Taste of Sunshine elixir.
  • People have wine at a wedding reception.
  • People have wine at a New Years Eve party.
  • People drink in a restaurant.
  • People have drinks at a party.
  • Adam and another man have wine.
  • Some men have drinks.
  • The narrator's family has wine for another New Years celebration.
  • Some people have drinks.
  • Ivan has wine with Gustave and Valerie, and Gustave drinks the last drop from a bottle of A Taste of Sunshine.
  • People, including Ivan, have drinks in a restaurant.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • We see a dead body in some post-explosion rubble, but beyond being dead, it isn't bloody or gory.
  • We see Ignatz, Valerie and Gustave (as young kids) sitting on chamber pots doing their business (we only hear the sounds of urination).
  • Adam has some blood from his nose and mouth after being beaten, and we later see that he has a bloody cut on his head as well.
  • We see a dead and nude body that's near completely encased in ice.
  • We see some black and white newsreel footage of men cutting into a dead horse for meat. Later, we see more footage showing many dead people as well as children (dead or near death) covered with flies.
  • We see Ivan vomit in the bathroom and see some of it land on his shoe.
  • We see an ugly scar on Knorr's body from where he was shot sometime in the past.
  • Ivan has a little bit of blood from his nose.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Some viewers may have a problem with Ignatz and Valerie becoming lovers and eventually being married since they are first cousins.
  • An official tells Ignatz that he should change his name to something more Hungarian (instead of Sonnenschein) if he wants to move up in the judicial system.
  • Ignatz helps cover up some corruption in the monarchy.
  • For those who don't like/are opposed to hunting, several scenes of that occur in the film (with large groups of men simultaneously firing and hitting several animals).
  • We get the impression that Valerie has been having an affair while Ignatz was off at the war. After she tells Ignatz that she's divorcing him, he then tries to restrain her (telling her that he loves her), eventually pins her down and rapes her (he does feel bad after doing so and cries about it).
  • A young man is mean toward Adam (for being Jewish) and briefly holds a sword on him. Others then surround him and one threatens to "circumcise" his head before pushing Adam to the ground.
  • A man tells Adam that he should convert to Christianity so that he can join the prestigious officers fencing club.
  • Adam continually pursues Hannah despite knowing that she's already engaged to be married.
  • Greta tells Adam that she's in love him (despite being his sister-in-law). They eventually have an affair.
  • The Hungarian government imposes restrictions on Jews living in the country and eventually herds them into ghettos (and Adam and his son are sent off to a labor camp).
  • Knorr lets some suspects/guilty people go free from his investigation due to special circumstances that Ivan doesn't agree with.
  • Despite being married, Carole has an affair with Ivan.
  • Ivan's boss is an anti-Semite and tells him to keep Jews off his investigation team.
  • Carole makes an abortion reference stating that she'll "take care of" her pregnancy.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" and/or "Blood/Gore" may also be unsettling or suspenseful to some viewers.
  • After Valerie tells Ignatz that she's divorcing him, he tries to restrain her (telling her that he loves her), eventually pins her down and then rapes her.
  • A labor camp official slaps and hits Adam several times (including several punches to the gut) while guards/soldiers hold their rifles on Adam. After making Adam strip, the guards then tie his hands and feet to a horizontal pole, and repeatedly proceed to kick and hit him with their rifle butts (for quite a while). When that doesn't work in getting him to answer the way they want him to answer (that he's a Jew), they string him up in a tree by his tied hands and spray him with water in the dead of winter (thus killing him via the water that freezes across his entire nude body).
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Rifles (and later machine guns): Used by men while hunting and by others to fire into the air to celebrate the end of a war.
  • We see newsreel footage of wartime soldiers carrying guns.
  • Sword: Held on Adam by another young man.
  • Fencing swords: Used in competition.
  • Rifles: Held on Adam by soldiers/guards and then used to beat him.
  • Rifles: Fired by an honor guard at a funeral.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "What the f*ck do you mean?" "F*ck you," "Go f*ck yourself," "Ungrateful bastards," "Slut," "Whore," "Balls" (testicles), "You're a cold bitch," "Go to hell" and "Nutcase."
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A tiny bit of tense/suspenseful music plays during the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 9 "f" words (1 used sexually), 4 "s" words, 3 damns, 3 hells, 2 S.O.B.s, 1 ass (used with "hole"), 2 uses each of "G-damn" and "My God" and 1 use each of "For God's sakes," "Jesus" and "Oh God" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Valerie and Ignatz passionately kiss. Moments later, we see a close-up of her face and her pleasured reaction to Ignatz having sex with her (we see just glimpses of his head, shoulder and movement in the corner of this close-up). Afterwards, we briefly seeing them lying in bed together and see her bare breasts.
  • After Ignatz returns home following a long absence, Valerie sneaks into his bedroom at night. There, she disrobes in the partial shadows and gets into bed with him (during which we briefly see her bare butt and the side of her bare breast). During this, she tells him that since they're already doomed to hell (for being cousins), they might as well enjoy it. They kiss in bed and it's implied that they have sex.
  • Ignatz and Valerie have sex outdoors and we see many close-up shots of hands caressing different parts of their bodies (and we see the top of her bare butt). We then see an aerial shot (from far away) of the two rolling around on the ground (too far away to see any specific details, but we do hear some heavy breathing).
  • Valerie playfully tells Ignatz that she wondered how it would be making love to a district court judge. He then asks for her verdict and she replies that the judge is a "hard" man and that his sentences are often "stiff."
  • Valerie tells Ignatz that she's pregnant (from one of their encounters).
  • A woman with Valerie shows cleavage.
  • We see a nude male infant.
  • After Valerie tells Ignatz that she's divorcing him, he tries to restrain her (telling her that he loves her), eventually pins her down and then rapes her (and we see thrusting movements between her legs but no nudity).
  • Greta tells Adam that she wakes up every morning thinking about him and what it would be like to make love to him. She later tells him that whenever her husband touches her, she thinks of Adam.
  • Greta passionately kisses Adam in a bedroom and the two start to undress (it's implied that they have sex).
  • We later see Adam and Greta in bed. While we don't see any nudity or activity, it's implied that they've had sex again.
  • To further demean Adam, a labor camp official makes Adam strip off all of his clothes. As such, we see various shots of male full frontal and rear nudity.
  • A military man tells Ivan that anyone who makes such stirring speeches should procreate (referring to Ivan).
  • Ivan and Carole passionately make out and she guides his hand down to her clothed crotch that he then gropes. They start undressing in his office and end up with him standing between her spread legs as she sits on the edge of his desk. As they have sex (eventually with her lying down on the desk), we see the side of his bare butt and related movement (some in a head and shoulders shot as well as the above), as well as hear sexually related sounds and heavy breathing. We then see them after sex where she asks if she was his first and he says yes.
  • Ivan and Carole find a secluded spot in the woods and begin making out up against a tree. He raises up her skirt, removes her underwear and we briefly see female full frontal nudity. He then briefly moves his head down to her crotch (suggesting brief oral sex). We then see him having sex from behind her up against that tree (they have their clothes on) and hear heavy breathing (while seeing them in a head and shoulders shot).
  • We see male full frontal nudity as Ivan showers.
  • After Ivan tells her to come away with him, Carole asks, "Where? To f*ck in the bush with my skirt over my head?" She does tell him, however, that she's pregnant and doesn't know who the father is (Ivan or her husband).
  • SMOKING
  • Ivan smokes several times, while Carole smokes once, Ignatz has a cigar and various other minor or background characters smoke cigarettes or cigars in various scenes.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Emmanuelle and his mother must contend with his father's sudden death in an explosion (he leaves at 12 and she grieves).
  • The budding romance between Ignatz and Valerie (first cousins) creates tension in the family, especially when Ignatz announces to them their plans to marry.
  • Ignatz, Valerie and Gustave's decision to change their last names to better their future causes some tension in the family.
  • Emmanuelle and Rose argue about Ignatz and Valerie's announcement of marriage.
  • Valerie and Ignatz get into an argument about him helping cover up corruption in the monarchy.
  • Gustave and Ignatz argue about the state of Hungary and the monarchy.
  • Ignatz gets a telegram that his father has died.
  • Upon his return from the war, Valerie informs Ignatz that she's divorcing him (he in turn rapes her). Much later, she's returned, but he doesn't like her and calls her names.
  • We hear that Ignatz has died and we see Rose, Valerie and their sons at the funeral. We later hear that Rose has died.
  • A son watches his father be murdered and can't do anything about it. Later, the murdered man's mother grieves after hearing the news.
  • Ivan learns that his uncle is dead and then later learns that his grandmother has died.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Ignatz and Valerie eventually getting married despite being first cousins.
  • Ignatz's decision to change his name to further his career and his son's decision to change his religion to do the same.
  • The anti-Semitism that various characters and governments adopt toward others.
  • The historical accuracy of the real life events that serve as the film's backdrop and various catalysts.
  • Why Adam didn't just answer that he was a Jew when asked by guards (instead of being killed for not doing so).
  • VIOLENCE
  • A huge explosion destroys a house and kills the man inside.
  • During an argument, Emmanuelle raises his hand as if he's going to strike Rose, but he doesn't.
  • For those who consider hunting as violence instead of "sport," a scene features hunters simultaneously firing shots at animals while hunting, hitting several of them (we only see the injured/dead animals afterwards).
  • We see some brief wartime newsreel footage of fighting and then hear sounds of bombs going off during some scenes taking place during this time.
  • After Valerie tells Ignatz that she's divorcing him, he tries to restrain her (telling her that he loves her), eventually pins her down and then rapes her.
  • Ignatz throws a teddy bear aside and it knocks a cup to the floor where it shatters.
  • Valerie violently throws items from bookshelves and other furniture while looking for one book.
  • A young man is mean toward Adam (for being Jewish) and briefly holds a sword on him. Others then surround him and one threatens to "circumcise" his head before pushing Adam to the ground.
  • After a security guard won't follow his wishes and then orders, Adam grabs the man, roughs him up a bit, and forcibly removes him from a building.
  • A labor camp official slaps and hits Adam several times (including several punches to the gut) while guards/soldiers hold their rifles on Adam. After making Adam strip, the guards then tie his hands and feet to a horizontal pole, and repeatedly proceed to kick and hit him with their rifle butts (for quite a while). When that doesn't work in getting him to answer the way they want him to answer (that he's a Jew), they string him up in a tree by his tied hands and spray him with water in the dead of winter (thus killing him via the water that freezes across his entire nude body).
  • Some wartime footage shows wartime destruction.
  • While giving him some friendly advice, Knorr slaps Ivan on the face.
  • A man kicks Ivan on the butt to get him to move.



  • Reviewed June 2, 2000 / Posted June 23, 2000

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