Review: Sunday

A TIME OF REFLECTION: Charlie (Dustin Clare) and Eve (Camille Keenan) attempt to discover if they can rebuild their ...

A TIME OF REFLECTION: Charlie (Dustin Clare) and Eve (Camille Keenan) attempt to discover if they can rebuild their relationship in the Christchurch-set movie Sunday.

Directed by Michelle Joy Lloyd ★★★★ 

Admiring a film and what its makers have achieved is a fine thing. 

In the course of this job, I've seen a lot of films I've admired simply because they existed and met many film-makers who have astonished me with the sacrifices and the sheer bloody-mindedness they have put into getting their films made. 

It's common now to hear numpties who've never tried, opining that anyone with a few $1000 for a camera and a laptop can make a film. But the reality is that although the technology is more accessible, the logistical challenges of making a film are as daunting as ever they were. So, yes, I see a lot of indie features that I admire.

What I don't see so often is a micro-budget, self-funded movie that I actually like and enjoy. But once in a while a Sunday comes along, and restores my faith again.

Sunday is simplicity itself. Charlie and Eve are a young ex-couple spending a day together, talking it through, trying to work out whether they have a future. But there is more at stake than just their own happiness – Eve is pregnant.

Through a couple of nicely placed flashbacks, we learn that Charlie and Eve met in Melbourne. They fell head over heels for each other, but the relationship imploded in the face of Charlie's long absences overseas to work. Eve has come home to Christchurch and now Charlie has come over to talk.

I can only assume this film was written specifically to be shot against the background of Christchurch's wrecked but regenerating CBD. The location is at the heart of the film. It lends the couple's trials – which are pretty thin and might not otherwise sustain a feature's worth of interest – a visceral and wonderful visual metaphor. 

Framed by ruined buildings, towers of shipping containers holding up cracked facades, heavy steel bulwarks and endless miles of orange road cone, Camille Keenan and Dustin Clare (she was in Packed to the Rafters , he was in Spartacus) talk it through, stumble over their own insecurities, shout and cry and laugh. The whole bit. 

It's not perfect by a long chalk. It seemed to me that the Charlie character has Daddy issues by the yard, and wasn't about to make good life-partner material for anyone until he got those sorted. That Eve seemed blind to that irritated me and I wanted the film to address it. But at the same time, how good is it to be able to write about characters in a film as though they were actual people? You would be surprised how uncommon that is.

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Sunday is a wee gem. It's our own indigenous Before Sunrise, made with some real craft. This is an honest, heartfelt, skilful, admirable, and truly likeable film. Bravo.


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