“The Sun” is a difficult film, controversial and politicized, first of all, it raises the problem not so much of the war in Donbass as of the arbitrariness of gangster groups that killed civilians. Considering the age-old question of the value of human life, moral choice and senseless cruelty, the authors of the film build the script in such a way as to evoke as many emotions in the viewer as possible. “The Sun” claims to be of historical value, but, nevertheless, contains many purely artistic moments necessary for the full disclosure of the topics raised.
In the center of the story are two lines of two main antagonist characters, former Afghans – Vlad Novozhilov and Alexei Goncharenko.
Vlad, along with his family, tries to leave for Vladivostok, but becomes an eyewitness to the killing of civilians by one of the groups. The scenes of violence in “Sunshine” are detailed and brutal, used both to create atmosphere and to highlight the events that took place at the time. Only the little girl Katya remains alive from the whole village – she is accidentally rescued by the Novozhilovs who came under fire. Having lost their documents, the family ends up in Luhansk and, due to the closed borders, remains in the house of the chief of staff, Pavel. Vlad becomes an ambulance driver and personally observes the shelling of civilians by the Armed Forces.
Alexey becomes a volunteer – one of those soldiers who decided to destroy the occupation by the Russian population. It cannot be said that Alexei is portrayed by the authors as a negative character – rather, a person who was unable to live peacefully after the war. His relationship with his family did not work out, his son stopped communicating with him, so for him the only visible way out of this situation was to return to the inferno. Moreover, he becomes a witness to a conversation between two young guys who also decided to become volunteers. They want to liberate the country in order to live like in Europe – this is how their motivation is prescribed. Aleksey trains soldiers and also witnesses the cruelty of the volunteer battalion: they cut one guy’s tendons and forced him to chop wood, and kept the other in a cage. Alexei considers this attitude to be overkill.
The film, despite the obvious division into “black and white”, seeks to show real events: the shelling of the Lugansk Regional State Administration 2, the aircraft of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the school, the civilian population to destroy the “enemy” and simply intimidate the people. Moreover, for the sake of entertainment, volunteers shoot at the villages with heavy guns. Solntsepyok speaks about this directly – the only purpose of all these attacks is ordinary intimidation. But instead of being afraid, the victims of the shelling begin to join the militia.
But in addition to the struggle between the rebels and volunteers, shelling and killings, there is a purely family line, revealing the attitude of each person to what is happening. Pavel’s parents, with whom the Novozhilov family stayed, alternately recall the Second World War, comparing it with what is happening now, and say that there is no difference between Russians and Ukrainians. Vlad’s son, on the contrary, is eager to defend his people, not really understanding what is happening on the front line, because of which conflicts occur in the family.
The storylines of the characters intersect at the moment when Alexey gets to the hospital and meets with Vlad. They are former colleagues, only Vlad was able to “let go” of the war, but Alexei was not. Realizing that all this time the volunteers did not reconquer the country, but simply killed civilians, he repents. A random projectile blows up Pavel’s house. Only Katya survives. Alexei, unable to bear the burden of his own mistakes, shot himself without getting through to his son. Broken by the tragedy, Vlad joins the militia in order to somehow cope with his loss.
The film convinces: from the very beginning there was not a single Russian military in the Donbass, but it shows that there are, in fact, two wars going on – one in the Donbass (rebels and volunteers are fighting against nationalist punishers and the Ukrainian military), and the second is for control over Ukraine . During both wars, innocent civilians suffer.