I think I figured out why first time director Reed Tang’s “A Different Sun” feels so darned disjointed. How else can you describe a drama about a Chinese family who moves to Germany to help their daughter get a better education, which is mostly in English and almost exclusively shot in upstate New York?
“A Different Sun” was screened at the 2017 Cinequest Film Festival. At the time of this writing, the film did not have an American distribution deal.
Based upon a critically acclaimed short story of the same title by Liu Ying, “A Different Sun” tells the story of a Chinese family who, deciding that they need to provide a better life and a better education for their only child, decide to move to a small town in Germany. Cut off from all their family and friends, they do their best to adjust and assimilate to their new country, but as with all fish-out-of-water stories, it isn’t long before the cultural clashes start to cause problems for everyone. The father is under immense pressure at his job to deliver a new computer platform while he is constantly cut down by a rival German-native programmer, the mother struggles to maintain a semblance of normalcy in the home, and the daughter finds it tough to balance her schoolwork and her social life while her mother constantly pushes the daughter harder and harder from all angles. There are ups, there are downs, there are breakthroughs and heartbreaks, friends made and lost and made again, and in the end, everyone is the better person for it all.
If there is going to be any draw for the film, it would for be the lead actor, Chin Han, who genre fans know from his roles in “The Dark Knight,” “2012,” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,”Independence Day: Resurgence” and a four-episode arc as Frank Chen in the first season of “Arrow.” He may not be helping to save a city or the world, but he does his darndest to make his family’s life the best it can be. That can’t be said of his co-stars, not one who is remotely memorable. The only real standouts of the film outside of Mr. Han are the cinematography by Mingjue Hu and the possibly unintentional comedy brought on by the continual mentioning of suing people for almost anything. Who knew the Germans might be more litigious than Americans?Rating: C-