Sunflower (2005)

April 8, 2009


Reviewed by: Emma

Director: Yang Zhang

Yang Zhang

Cast: Joan Chen, Haiying Sun, Ge Gao, Wang Haidi

Music: Hai Lin

I watched this film last night on SBS on a whim, because I heard it was about some guy arguing with his father about wanting to go to university and study fine arts.
This film has a 7.7 rating on imdb, with only a couple of hundred votes… so I didn’t know what to expect. The truth is, this film isn’t amazing, in fact it’s very dull cinematography wise, and ‘art’ wise. The music is touching at times however, with that distant twinkling asian sort of ‘revelationary’ sound. That probably didn’t make sense.
Anyway, despite the sociopolitcal themes in this movie, it is mainly about the relationship between father and son, especially in a Chinese family background. I now understand why so many Chinese people do not show much expression, or seem to be ‘unfeeling’… Chinese parents (especially fathers) are so hard on their kids. But this film is not just for Chinese people, it’s for everyone who’s had a hard, harsh or confusing relationship with their father. It’s also for everyone who has a passion for painting or drawing.

Though this film is not what I wanted it to be (the ideas are more impressive than the movie itself), the emotions it stirred within me made it worthwhile to watch. I cried twice, and at times I smiled really huge. Other times I thought “man, that’s so lame”. Or “ugh, that was too obvious”. But it’s worth watching if you want to see how the father imposes his failed art life onto his son, so that it becomes the entire son’s life. It’s very moving when the son is not allowed to do anything he wants, and we often see his father dragging him away from something, even when the son is a grown man. It’s painful. Every time we hear the same answer “BECAUSE I’M YOUR FATHER”.  Also, because the father is so bitter and hardhearted (though we learn why in the film), every time his son draws or paints something, the answer is always the same “Hmm, not bad”. It is only until the very end where things start to resolve, and I am very happy with the ending to say the least. I’ll give a hint: Art exhibition.

There are many things which probably annoyed me in this film, but I overlooked them because a) it was on SBS, b) it was foreign, c) it made me cry, d) it had a personal meaning to me. I could really connect to how the son felt, and also the father who was tortured in his mind for not being able to paint anymore, after destroying his hands. There is a point in the film when he grows old and we see him attempting to paint again, and it’s quite moving…
Overall, I wouldn’t recommend this film unless you have some personal attachment/experience to the themes in it, because then you’ll just be looking at the bad parts of the film, and how it’s not very fluid or artistically well put together (though it tries). Also, the sunflower theme is kind of pointless. It doesn’t really “work” in the whole symbolic way. But you know what, I liked this film. Good luck trying to find it though, because it looks pretty rare/hard to find.

P.S. If you like the Australian movie Shine, about the pianist David Helfgott who had an extremely strict father forcing him to play piano, you will like this film. It’s all about the father/son/artistic talent thing.


Links: – – the trailer, even though it makes the film look bad, as they always do. – sunflower at imdb, which lets you know how unknown the film is. there is also a good review on here too.


One Response to “Sunflower (2005)”

  1. Man, I’m so annoyed that i missed this! it was right under my nose.
    tops review though, of course, matsuda-chan 😀

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: