Generally favorable reviews - based on 26 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 26
  2. Negative: 1 out of 26
  1. From the outside, Sunshine sounds like the most boring film on Earth. In fact, it's glorious.
  2. 91
    So filled with riches that it seems a bit unfair to single out Szabo and Fiennes, no matter how outstanding their work.
  3. It's a brilliant, profound movie, but it's almost no fun at all.
  4. An incredibly ambitious film and one of the most highly accomplished of the year.
  5. While inevitably oversimplified, is never less than engrossing.
  6. 80
    What makes Sunshine unique, what rewards a first viewing and lives in the mind long thereafter, is that Szabo has attempted to place Judaism and Christianity on a continuum that is both historically truthful and highly personal.
  7. Leaves you with a sense of quiet, chastened grace.
  8. 75
    This is a movie of substance and thrilling historical sweep, and its three hours allow Szabo to show the family's destiny forming and shifting under pressure.
  9. The filmmaking is uninspired and Fiennes inexplicably plays three different characters with exactly the same acting style.
  10. Reviewed by: Marta Barber
    For filmgoers not interested in history, Sunshine might be a three-hour investment they may not want to undertake.
  11. It is often as powerful as it is elegantly shot. Unfortunately, Szabo tends to tell this rather predictable tale in an obvious yet uneven way.
  12. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    This movie doesn't make you think you are watching art. It's closer to a high-end TV movie with lots of familiar faces.
  13. The sunshine in Sunshine comes from women around him (Fiennes).
  14. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    That this handsome, three-hour extravaganza coheres at all is a small miracle; that it actually leaves you wanting more is a major one.
  15. 70
    Despite Sunshine's historical scope and multiplicity of characters, it doesn't shed half as much light on its subject -- identity and anti-Semitism -- as does, for example, Agnieszka Holland's claustrophobic chamber piece "Angry Harvest."
  16. It is a superb period re-creation and boasts a formidable international cast.... It is nevertheless absorbing and illuminating in regard to the eras its spans but is also pretty wearying by the time it starts winding down.
  17. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    Sunshine is a trifle schematic. But it also makes you feel, quite poignantly, the crushing tides of history: heedless, inhuman--and tragic.
  18. 70
    Many of the plot points seem belabored because they're introduced in the voice-over, then ploddingly dramatized, then analyzed by the family over meals.
  19. The saga might have worked better as a novel, where we could cast the characters with our imaginations, and keep them straight.
  20. Szabo doesn't bring the film to its senses until just past the halfway point.
  21. Reviewed by: Eddie Cockrell
    Well-intentioned but never entirely engaging chronicle.
  22. 52
    Eventually succumbs to fatal overlength.
  23. Ultimately one of those sprawling epics best suited for a rainy day.
  24. Reviewed by: Gemma Files
    Sunshine's historical reference-heavy narrative walks a fine line between novelistic tragedy and comically overstated melodrama, falling down on the job more than once.
  25. That this mess should come from the hand of Istvan Szabo, the brilliant Hungarian director of "Mephisto" and "Colonel Redl," is the real shocker.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 11 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 7
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 7
  3. Negative: 0 out of 7
  1. Lizd
    May 17, 2007
    A tough movie to watch because of the constant barrage of gratuitous ex and violence. Good story though--good acting. Very good cinematography. Many wonderful moments. Full Review »
  2. MaybeJustNotHungarianEnough
    May 17, 2007
    When the film depicts political events and their effects on individuals, it's gripping. William Hurt is devastatingly convincing as the post-war Nazi hunger who falls victim to the zealous machine of retribution that he helps to build. (He is all the more convincing for his matter-of-fact American accent -- none of the 'mid-Atlantic' neutrality which is supposed to make the characters sound authentically European -- because it serves to remind North American viewers that they are just as prone to the ideological madness that overtook Central Europe.) My problem with the film is that much of the personal drama, especially the ebb and flow of romance, is less convincing. We never really seem to understand why characters fall in and out of love with each other; it's as though there just isn't time, for all the length of the film. What was the first sign that Ignatz's brother is also in love with his cousin/sister-in-law? Seemingly, it just happens. Why does she then leave Ignatz? If he really was so cold and rational, didn't she get an inkling of this before they married? Rachel Weizz's character seems to be in the film just to be another temptress, as though her suddenly appearing to declare her passion for her brother-in-law is supposed to move us all. The whole sub-plot seems to be thrown into the film like a gaudy extra sweater in a stuffed suitcase. One also doesn't understand the youngest son's love interest, except that the director seemed to believe that any decent Hungarian has to have his head turned by a sultry blonde. We know so little of their feelings that we agree when she complains that he only wants to lift her skirt in some wood. Still, there will be many viewers who will disagree with me, and they should find (and find the time to enjoy) this moving and ultimately inspiring film. Full Review »
  3. ElliottH.
    Jun 4, 2006
    A complex terrific movie. Long movies (3 hours) tend to be something special-especially good or especially bad. This one is especially good. If the movie can capture your interest and attention for 3 hours, it has an advantage shorter movies can't match. As you invest your time, you begin to care for the characters in a way beyond criticism. When I start reacting viscerally to a movie it gets a 10 from me. Full Review »