03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

'Son of the Sunshine' Playing at Starz Denver Film Fest This Weekend

Donnybrook reviewed films playing the Starz Denver Film Festival this week on a 100 star system. Why? Because our opinion counts 20 times more than most peoples'.

Sun of the Sunshine (93 STARS)

Son of the Sunshine subverts expectations. The film's opening sequence does its cheerful name justice: a crackling montage of family films churns nostalgically atop a springy bed of Devendra Banhart songs, two siblings playing in sun-glinted fields with their benevolent blond mother, smiling for the camera. It seems like it's going to be a happy movie. This couldn't be more wrong.


We dive headfirst into our time with protagonist Sonny, grown up and suffering from Tourette's. We see the typical life of Sonny and all his afflictions from Tourette's, from trying to eat spaghetti to getting in a fight after accidentally yelling profanities at some guys on the subway.

With each step of the movie, more trauma and more beauty is uncovered. Wedged between his inability to fit into the outside world and the dysfunction of his home life, with a heroin addict mother (who's clearly troubled in many ways) and his abrasively tough-loving pushy sister, to family secrets that peek out every once in a while, Sonny's only solace is walking along the train tracks smoking joints.

Sonny saves up his disability checks to get an expensive operation that will rid him of Tourette's, giving him the normal life he always dreamed of--including finding love with Arielle, a girl just as fucked-up as his mother--but at the price of taking away healing powers we gradually find out about.


Ultimately the film deals with uncovering family secrets, drug addiction, death, young love, sex, heartbreak, dysfunctional families, incest, healing, and the supernatural. And one of the underlying messages that can be gleaned from it is: with ecstasy comes heartbreak, and with some of our biggest adversities lie our most beautiful aspects.

Saying anything is the best is risky, so I'll just say this: visually, from the marriage between the cinematography and the art direction, this film was one of the most uniquely beautiful films I've seen in a very, very, very long time.

- Son of the Sunshine is playing Saturday (today), Nov 14th at 9:15 and Sunday, Nov 15th at 2:15 PM at the Starz Film Festival.