×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Broken Sun

"War never stops being hell," is the message delivered in 1944-set "Broken Sun," a somber character study in which an Aussie farmer traumatized by WWI memories comes face to face with an escaped Japanese POW.

With:
With: Jai Koutrae, Shingo Usami, Kentaro Hara, Kuni Hashimoto, Mark Redpath. (English, Japanese dialogue)

“War never stops being hell,” is the message delivered in 1944-set “Broken Sun,” a somber character study in which an Aussie farmer traumatized by WWI memories comes face to face with an escaped Japanese POW. Ambitiously structured with multiple flashbacks and ghostly apparitions, helmer Brad Haynes’ debut applies commendable cultural sensitivity to themes of honor and loyalty, but even willing auds will be tested by its unremittingly bleak tone. Privately financed, self-distributed indie should do modest local biz, assisted by the April 24 release coinciding with ANZAC Day, a holiday commemorating Australian military history. Fest berths and ancillary in Japan are possible.

Though no historical information is supplied, the story springs from the escape of Japanese POW’s in the rural NSW town of Cowra in August 1944. One of the largest such World War II bust-outs, the event is enshrined in Aussie consciousness and has played a significant role in shaping respectful postwar understanding between the nations.

Nonlinear action kicks off with a lengthy series of flashbacks filling in the stories of Jack (Jai Koutrae), a gaunt farmer, and Masaru (Shingo Usami), an escaped POW first seen wandering onto Jack’s property. In well staged recreations of trench warfare in 1916, Jack survives mustard gas attacks and a tragic mission into no-man’s land. Former causes him to now cough up blood between cigarettes, latter finds him haunted by the talking ghost of a fallen comrade.

In the lead-up to the POW escape, kind-faced Masaru is cast as a conscientious objector more intent on survival than towing the “death before the dishonor of capture” line of commanding officer Kamimura (Kuni Hashimoto).

Sometimes abrasively bumping into each other, these sequences prove more interesting and insightful than what’s said once Jack discovers the intruder and holds him at his rundown shack while awaiting the arrival of authorities. Anticipated bonding between the duo is drawn-out and airless, with little added to the psychological portraits of either man. Screenplay instead attempts to fills the gaps with yet more flashbacks, this time to Masaru’s harrowing jungle combat alongside buddy Ashimoto (Kentaro Hara) and Jack’s long-ago encounter with a German prisoner.

Thesping is fine, but well-intentioned messages about the effect of war on ordinary men are repetitive and stifled by a pervasive atmosphere of gloom and regret. That said, the script does eventually manage to link some thematic threads together and deliver a modicum of emotional reward deep in the final furlong.

Visuals on a miniscule budget impress. Production design spells decrepitude in every corner of Jack’s quarters, and lenser Anthony Jennings invokes Australian landscape masters Arthur Boyd and Russell Drysdale with striking imagery of the ruggedly beautiful surroundings. The rest of the tech work shows tender loving care.

Broken Sun

Australia

Production: A JackaFilms production. (International sales: JackaFilms, Sydney.) Produced by Sasha Huckstepp, Brad Haynes. Directed by Brad Haynes. Screenplay, Dacre Timbs.

Crew: Camera (color, HD), Anthony Jennings; editor, Hayley Lake; music, Matteo Zingales; art directors, Wendy Morrison, Ian Sparks; sound (stereo), Nick Pursehouse; sound designer, Sasha Zastavnikovic; associate producers, Lazzarotto, Jai Koutrae; assistant director, Corey Lazzarotto. Reviewed on DVD, Sydney, April 20, 2008. Running time: 91 MIN.

With: With: Jai Koutrae, Shingo Usami, Kentaro Hara, Kuni Hashimoto, Mark Redpath. (English, Japanese dialogue)

More Film

  • Matt Smith, Thomasin McKenzie Circle Edgar

    Matt Smith, 'Leave No Trace' Star Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie Circle Edgar Wright Movie

    Matt Smith and “Leave No Trace” star Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie are in negotiations to join Edgar Wright’s next film, “Last Night in Soho,” sources tell Variety. Details are vague about the psychological horror movie, other than it being set in London’s Soho district. Anya Taylor Joy is also in the cast. Production is expected to [...]

  • Vice Media

    Vice Media Taps Joe Simon as Chief Technology Officer (EXCLUSIVE)

    Joe Simon has been tapped as chief technology officer at Vice Media. The newly created role will include oversight of data analytics, engineering, information technology, media operations, media technology, post production, and systems management. Prior to Vice, Simon spent three years as Encompass Digital Media’s chief operating officer. Previously he held the chief technology officer [...]

  • Michael B Jordan denzel washington

    Michael B. Jordan to Star in Denzel Washington's 'Journal for Jordan'

    Michael B. Jordan is in talks to star in Sony’s “Journal for Jordan,” a drama that will be directed by Denzel Washington. The movie, penned by Oscar-nominated screenwriter Virgil Williams, is based on the true story of Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Dana Canedy’s love affair with First Sergeant Charles Monroe King. King kept a journal [...]

  • Sylvester Stallone

    Sylvester Stallone's Superhero Drama 'Samaritan' Lands at MGM

    MGM is developing the superhero drama “Samaritan” with Sylvester Stallone attached to star and produce through his Balboa Productions. The studio has acquired Bragi F. Schut’s script, which centers on a boy learning that a missing superhero, who vanished 20 years earlier after a battle, may still be alive. MGM will develop “Samaritan” with Stallone [...]

  • Kendrick Lamar

    Oscars: Kendrick Lamar and SZA Will Not Perform 'Black Panther' Song (EXCLUSIVE)

    Despite the Academy’s efforts to secure Kendrick Lamar and SZA for a performance of the Oscar-nominated song “All the Stars” from “Black Panther” on the upcoming Oscars telecast, the duo will not be a part of the show, Variety has learned. The reason, according to a source close to the situation, is logistics and timing. [...]

  • Oscars Spa Treatments

    Area Spas Offer Red Carpet Treatments in Time for Oscars

    From a shopping session with a celebrity stylist to a covert airport pickup, these hotels and spas are offering even more curated packages for the ultimate VIP Oscar experience. For the Jetsetter Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills’ Doheny Suite Experience package allows travelers to evade the paparazzi with an underground or curbside [...]

  • Rocketman

    See Taron Egerton Transform Into Elton John in New ‘Rocketman’ Trailer

    A new trailer for “Rocketman,” the Elton John “fantasy musical” in theaters May 31, was released today. As the singer, actor Taron Egerton (“Eddie the Eagle”) performs “Tiny Dancer” and is seen honing his talent at home, rising to fame and grappling with the pitfalls that superstardom can bring. The film also stars Jamie Bell (as John’s [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content