11 user 10 critic

Sophie and the Rising Sun (2016)

R | | Drama | 22 January 2016 (USA)
2:10 | Trailer
Autumn of 1941 in Salty Creek, a fishing village in South Carolina, two interracial lovers are swept up in the tides of history.


Maggie Greenwald


Maggie Greenwald (screenplay), Augusta Trobaugh (novel)
3 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Julianne Nicholson ... Sophie Willis
Takashi Yamaguchi ... Grover Ohta
Margo Martindale ... Anne Morrison
Diane Ladd ... Ruth Jeffers
Lorraine Toussaint ... Salome Whitmore
Karen Wheeling Reynolds ... Isabel
Mickey Dodge ... Samille
Don Henderson Baker ... Dr. Gilbert
Joel Murray ... Sheriff Cooper
David Dickson Reynolds David Dickson Reynolds ... Reverend Jeffers
Kenneth Charles Graham Kenneth Charles Graham ... Harold Jackson
Sabrina Mayfield Sabrina Mayfield ... Matilda
Jan Hartsell ... Minna
Cali Ward Cali Ward ... Young Sophie
Meredith Jackson ... Young Ruth


Set in the autumn of 1941 in Salty Creek, a fishing village in South Carolina, the film tells the dramatic story of interracial lovers swept up in the tides of history. As World War II rages in Europe a wounded stranger, Mr. Ohta, appears in the town under mysterious circumstances. Sophie, a native of Salty Creek, quickly becomes transfixed by Mr. Ohta and a friendship born of their mutual love of art blossoms into a delicate and forbidden courtship. As their secret relationship evolves the war escalates tragically. When Pearl Harbor is bombed, a surge of misguided patriotism, bigotry and violence sweeps through the town, threatening Mr. Ohta's life. A trio of women, each with her own secrets - Sophie, along with the town matriarch and her housekeeper - rejects law and propriety, risking their lives with their actions. Written by monterey media inc.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some sexuality and nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. See more »


[first lines]
Dr. Gilbert: [examining stranger] Know who he is?
Sheriff Cooper: Don't know why he ended up here. Got no wallet. Not a penny in his pocket. His bus was comin' from New York City. He mighta gotten on anywhere between there and here. Poor fella.
Dr. Gilbert: These are worker's hands. Could be a farmer.
Boy: Is that a Chinaman, Dr. Gilbert?
Dr. Gilbert: Sure is, Zack.
Sheriff Cooper: What's your name, boy?
Stranger: [straining] Ohta.
Sheriff Cooper: Don't even talk English.
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User Reviews

Cannot Shake This Beautiful Film
20 September 2019 | by sisterdebmacSee all my reviews

I first watched this film about a week ago. I watched it again last night because I just couldn't stop thinking about it. I broke down in tears at the ending on that first watch. And then I cried twice more that night just thinking about how impactful that resolution is. I think it's better to go in not knowing how it ends so that you feel the full weight of it. I don't mean to imply that it's a sad ending. It's more like a bittersweet suckerpunch that makes absolutely perfect sense. It also illustrates the true power of love and human connection, and how far we're willing to go when we find it.

Though the ending is likely to be the thing that sticks with you, the movie has so many other delights. Let's start with what drew me to it in the first place... the utterly luminous central performance by Julianne Nicholson as Sophie. Whether she's out "crabbing" in overalls, or dolled-up for an evening at the "picture show" with Miss Ann, Sophie is a magnetic, fascinating creature. How much of that was on the page, and how much is merely the result this gifted actress's presence, I can't say.

Based on the synopsis, you might be expecting a sad, lonely old spinster. That's not Sophie. No. Instead, she's a strong, fiercely independent, delightfully offbeat, daring woman. Gentle of spirit, sweet of soul, most of the townsfolk do dismiss her as someone in need of their protection. The town busybody, who was the best friend of Sophie's late mother, seems to think managing Sophie's life is her personal mission. Her constant snooping and interference drives most of the conflict in the story. And we are treated to flashbacks that reveal that Miss Ruth has been butting in and causing havoc ever since Sophie was a child. These flashbacks also reveal Sophie to be one of those rare humans with nothing but boundless love in her heart. Unfortunately, by the time we meet her, the social constructs of the era and place she was born into have beaten a lot of it out of her.

When a beaten, barely coherent young Japanese man, Mr. Grover Ohta is dumped on a park bench in her small coastal South Carolina town, little does Sophie know the stranger is about to change her life.

I don't want to give away a whole lot because I think you'll enjoy the movie much more, the less you know. I will say that the cinematography is gorgeous, the score is unobtrusive, and all of the acting is uniformly outstanding. Kudos to whoever found Takashi Yamaguchi and brought him on board. He's just perfect. Margo Martindale is as wonderful as always.

One thing I do want to mention is how glorious the love scenes are. They're so heartfelt and well-earned they brought tears to me eyes on that first watch. I can't remember the last time I had such a strong reaction.

See this movie. Then share it with like-minded friends. You will probably need someone to talk to and/or cry with when it's over.

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Release Date:

22 January 2016 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Sophie i wschodzące słońce See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

Production Co:

Sophie Film See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

6-Track Stereo



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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