By Chris Gore | June 9, 2000

Sunshine is the name of the brand of liquor produced by a Jewish family living in Hungary. Already, you can tell, this is not exactly a typical summer movie. The story begins in Europe in the early 1900s, Ralph Fiennes plays characters from three generations of the Sonnenscheins, a Jewish-Hungarian family — Ignatz, the father, Adam, the son and the grandson, Ivan. And Fiennes performance actually works well, as each generation has less and less facial hair. The entire family is confronted with a dilemma when Ignatz is faced with a choice, he may get a promotion as a judge only if he changes his Jewish-sounding name Sonnenschein to a more Hungarian-sounding name. He chooses “Sors”. Adam becomes the jewel of the family’s eye as he becomes the Hungary’s greatest fencing champion.
Through Fiennes, we see each generation face the same seemingly unbeatable struggles: finding love during tumultuous times, learning to conform within each new government establishment and dealing with their Jewish heritage. This, of course, leads to tragic results in concentration camps during World War II when the family is nearly wiped out.
Ralph Fiennes is sure to get a load of awards for his multiple performances and he puts Harvey Keitel to shame by doing several full frontal nude scenes. Sunshine is beautifully shot and if you can survive the horrifying circumstances the family endures, the film reaches an uplifting ending. And that really redeemed it for me.

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