'Raging Sun' focuses on details, ignores audience
Issue date: 7/31/09 Section: Arts & Entertainment
Though "Raging Sun, Raging Sky" has all the makings of a cult classic including: a black and white color scheme, almost no dialogue, a controversial theme and unknown actors - it falls short of delivering any significant entertainment value for the first two hours.
The film circles around Ryo and Kieri, who are in love. The two men meet in a bathroom much to the chagrin of Tari, who is obsessed with Ryo as well. Ryo is abducted, and Kieri begins the journey to rescue him. However, before Kieri can find his love, Ryo dies. After the death of Ryo, the film starkly changes from black and white to color, and mythological plot arcs are incorporated.
Director Julián Hernández depicts a beautifully grim world. His attention to detail reveals walls with chipped paint, wrinkled cotton shirts, crowded bus seats and street lights that flicker on and off. He uses his main characters to illuminate a dim world. Carefully crafted scenes and highly developed imagery make the film a piece of realist art. Yet Hernandez overworks his skill, and his commendable attention to detail is the very thing that damns his film.
The film's entire first half is uselessly dedicated to following a woman up and down the shoddy streets, from morning until midnight. She rides the bus, she gets caught in the rain, she cuts through the street - focusing on this one woman for a wordless thirty-minute period is not character development, it's boring.
The lack of dialogue is an ambitious idea on the part of Hernandez, but his inability to show a streamlined narrative collapses the idea. In all honesty, this three hour and 11 minute long movie could have been cut down to two and a half hours.
When you peel back the strong imagery and controversially homosexual themes, the film is simply a love triangle. Though presented in a new way, it still relies on the pathos of the audience to build its plot. Ultimately, this film was not the pioneering, anti-sequel indie hit that I was looking for.
Behind the guise of character development, Hernandez has created a movie that is unbearable for anyone who doesn't plan on writing an explicative paper for a film studies class. "Raging Sun, Raging Sky" is an excellent movie to dissect and discuss from a scholarly standpoint. But we cannot forget that the primary purpose of a movie is to entertain; without that, no message, no matter how beautiful or how magnanimous, will shine through.
I don't recommend seeing "Raging Sun, Raging Sky." For almost everyone, this movie will probably come across as pretentious, long-winded and uninteresting. The excellent imagery, mythological allusions and creative cinematography will not make up for the film's length and redundancy. While "Raging Sun, Raging Sky" is a welcome departure from the Harry Potters and Transformers of this summer, it just isn't engaging.