Sunflower (Xiang ri kui)
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The tumultuous relationship between a father returning home after years in a labor camp and the nine-year-old son who doesn't quite know what to make of this new man in his life lies at the heart of director Zhang Yang's heartfelt drama addressing the nature of change and the importance of family in Chinese culture. Chairman Mao has died and the Gang of Four have fallen, leaving former painter Gengnian (Sun Haiying) to return home to his wife, Xiuqing (Joan Chen), and the pair's nine-year-old son Xiangyang (Zhang Fan). His hands permanently damaged by the ravages of hard labor,… More
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 69%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"The film's father-son friction grows occasionally repetitious, but it springs from a sensitive, well-written melodrama that earns its emotions with tender sincerity."
‑ Jeff Shannon, Seattle Times
"Like Douglas Sirk without the throw pillows, Sunflower is a shamelessly old-fashioned melodrama performed with such sincerity that resistance is futile."
‑ Jeannette Catsoulis, New York Times
"An odd combination of sociopolitical metaphor and conventional melodrama, Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yang's Sunflower has moments of keen insight and power touching on the ways in which human character and personality are shaped by historical experience."
‑ Prairie Miller, NewsBlaze
"A much better film in theory than in practice."
‑ Rob Humanick, Slant Magazine
"Sunflower succeeds as both a moving family drama and a microcosm of China's social history since the 1970s."
‑ Jason Anderson, Globe and Mail
"Paging John O'Hara. One would have to reach back to those melodramatic family potboilers of the '50s to find such an unfettered blast of guilt-tripping and misdirected love."
‑ Jan Stuart, Newsday
"There is so much going on in Sunflower that you may want to see it more than once."
‑ Liz Braun, Jam! Movies
"A fascinating portrait of 30 years in a turbulent relationship between a domineering Chinese father and his stubborn son."
‑ Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice
"Although filled with a plethora of dramatic events, including earthquakes and floods, the film never achieves real dramatic momentum, due in large part to its needlessly sluggish pacing."
‑ Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter
"Sunflower plays less like the epic it aspires to be than an episode of Full House: Beijing."
‑ Julia Wallace, Village Voice
"Whatever the movie lacks in sociopolitical insight, it makes up for with moving storytelling."
‑ Eric Monder, Film Journal International
"This film marks a return to more accessible fare for Chinese director Zhang Yang."
‑ Adam Nayman, eye WEEKLY
More reviews for Sunflower (Xiang ri kui) on Rotten Tomatoes