White Sun Screen 78 of 9 reviews

White Sun

2016

White Sun Poster
  • While new directors are oftentimes still working out kinks during their first or second features, Nepali director Deepak Rauniyar has the markings of a true master in his powerful rural drama White Sun.

  • The sky-high Himalayas and the aftermath of civil war cast equally dark shadows in White Sun (Seto Surya), an impressively accomplished second feature by Nepalese writer-director Deepak Rauniyar. Co-produced with Qatar, the Netherlands and the USA — Danny Glover's name present among a slew of producers — this is considerably more than merely a slice of verdant exotica from the very roof of the world.

  • Rauniyar (Highway) and co-screenwriter David Barker deftly show how recent Nepalese history affects its most isolated citizens, and cinematographer Mark O’Fearghail’s unobtrusive naturalism captures the region’s punishing poverty and exquisite beauty.

  • Nepalese filmmaker Deepak Rauniyar brings the Nepalese Civil War home in this trim, deceptively simple family drama—both informative and exotic—concerning two brothers, a Maoist and a monarchist, who fought on opposing sides and find themselves snared by caste and tradition.

  • It’s a seemingly ordinary event that sets off a series of minor and major dramas, as well as a touch of comedy, and which speaks to the nation’s lingering schism... Even as the director, Deepak Rauniyar, turns opposition into a structuring principle, he creates a satisfyingly holistic work.

  • The children may be affected by the many messes the adults have made, but they're as yet untainted by the kind of petty resentments and sociopolitical prejudices that blind them. Rauniyar brings this home in a final scene in which the children of Nepaltra are the ones to carry out a village tradition because the adults are too wrapped up in their dramas. Rauniyar may be more skilled dramatist than inspired image-maker, but his humane social and political perspective is bracing nevertheless.

  • Rauniyar handles the socio-political complexities of life post-conflict with a lightness of touch and flashes of absurdist humour. Much more than a photogenic ethnographic postcard from afar, this is a deceptively complex story of muddled allegiances and proscriptive social rules... The novelty factor of the visually stunning Nepali backdrop could help the film’s theatrical propects with arthouse audiences with an appetite for promising new voices in world cinema.

  • The movie comes to TIFF direct from Venice’s Horizons section, which suggests that it may be an adventurous piece of cinema. It’s not, but aside from a few rough patches of staging and multiple servings of on-the-nose dialogue, it is a solid example of dramatic storytelling that gives equal weight to personal and social concerns. This is a balancing act that’s never easy, and for a sophomore director, Rauniyar works things with skill.

  • Although there is a certain basic interest value in this film for me -- I would have to check the logs, but I'm fairly certain I've never seen a film from Nepal before -- there is a schematism at work here that so often bedevils filmmakers early in their careers. (It's actually director Deepak Rauniyar's second feature, following Highway from 2012.) White Sun is well acted, very nicely shot, and generally engaging, but there is a lot less beneath the surface the more you look at it.

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