Sophie and the Rising Sun

116 minutes 2016

The premise of a white woman (Julianne Nicholson) and a Japanese-American man (Takashi Yamaguchi) falling in love in a South Carolina fishing town prior to Pearl Harbor demands more heat and complexity than this hokey 2016 drama provides. Racial tensions boil from the opening scenes: the man shows up in the village nearly beaten to death, and the white townsfolk immediately refer to him as "the Chinaman." Flashbacks to the woman's childhood indicate that she tried to befriend a black girl against the wishes of her racist mother; her character might have been more interesting had her views on interracial relationships evolved over the course of the film instead of traveling the path of righteousness from the start. Maggie Greenwald directed her own script, adapting a 2001 novel by Augusta Trobaugh; with Margo Martindale, Diane Ladd, and Lorraine Toussaint.

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