Sunshine Review

Jun 08, 2000 | 8:00pm EDT

In the days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire Ignatz Sonnenschein (Fiennes

with beard) deals with anti-Semitism and a rocky marriage to his

cousin/adopted sister (Jennifer

Ehle). In World War II-era Hungary Ignatz’ son Adam (Fiennes with

mustache) deals with anti-Semitism and romantic overtures from his

brother’s hottie wife (Rachel Weisz). In Communist postwar Hungary

Adam’s son Ivan (Fiennes clean-shaven) deals with anti-Semitism and an

affair with a married comrade (Deborah Kara Unger). Get it? Things never

really change!

Fiennes can be a ferocious presence onscreen as he demonstrates in

isolated moments such as an electrifying bit when the usually

unemotional Ignatz suddenly explodes in anger at Harris’ character. For

the most part however the melodramatic dialogue ("Give me the salt

damn you!") is more than even he or expert supporting players such as

Miriam Margolyes ("Romeo + Juliet") and James Frain ("Hilary and

Jackie") can sell. Oh and why are the Hollywood imports Unger and

William Hurt doing British accents?

Hungarian director Istvan Szabo’s soap opera-ish treatment of the

material would be hard enough to take in a standard-length feature but

this sucker clocks in at a butt-punishing three hours. With its

sputtering storyline and routine visual approach the film certainly

provides no competition to Vittorio De Sica’s similarly themed 1971

masterpiece "The Garden of the Finzi-Continis." As Fiennes vehicles go

this one is closer to the laughably bad "The Avengers" than "Schindler’s


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