(1999)3.5Karl WilliamsA heartbreaking portrait of three generations in a Hungarian-Jewish family, the multinational co-production Sunshine (1999) is the most successful narrative film from co-writer and director Istvan Szabo since his Oscar-nominated films of the 1980s. With Ralph Fiennes, Szabo at last finds a worthy collaborator to replace his memorable trilogy of films with Klaus-Maria Brandauer. Tackling three different roles that encompass a family's 20th century history, Fiennes is most remarkable in the middle of his triptych. As Adam Sors, Olympic fencing star and victim of fascist atrocity, Fiennes creates a stark portrait of indomitable pride that creates a satisfying bookend to his blazing role earlier in the decade as a Nazi in Schindler's List (1993). If at times his film strays too far afield, displaying the literary pretensions of so much European cinema in the latter part of the century, Szabo manages each time to snap back into a breathtakingly merciless confessional mode that never fails to shock and surprise. Sunshine is a remarkable self-examination of a family broken by fate and political philosophy but finding its way back to its roots. It's also an important film that charts a possible route of navigation out of a long-suffering Europe's turmoil and into an enlightened peace.