Sunday has its world premiere in Auckland last weekend and now I have a new favourite Kiwi film to add to my collection.
Fiercely independent in its making, Sunday is the collaborative effort of director Michelle Joy Lloyd, her two co-stars (the ephemeral, wonderful Camille Keenan as Eve and the magnetic Dustin Clare as Charlie), and a budget that was crowd funded to allow the creative team to produce and distribute their work on their own terms. In a world first, Sunday premiered to a full theatre at Sky City and was also released on on-demand TV and New Zealand airlines simultaneously on Sunday evening. 10% of all the film’s profits (which deserve to be significant) will be donated to Christchurch rebuild efforts.
Charlie and Eve are our film’s protagonists, and almost the entire cast. We spend the entirety of the film with them, both in the present and the past. Currently Eve is five months pregnant and Charlie flies in for a 24 hour visit – their first face-to-face meeting since separating months prior. Small glimpses of the past introduce us to their romance in wordless scenes, almost all of which are set in or near the water.
There is a bond and a chemistry between the two of them that is authentic and lovely, and it really allows for the pared back script and evocative urban backdrop to tell the story. After all, when you know and love someone deeply, often words are superfluous; spoken language is less powerful than the physical. There is a wonderful awkwardness as they reconnect and try to navigate unfamiliar terrain with each other, with small moments of old intimacy resurfacing amidst an unknown present and the ever-present question mark over what they are going to do going forwards. Charlie’s job as a military contractor in the Middle East is what tore them apart, and the choice he faces over becoming a father and continuing his work weighs heavily over both of them.
Sunday, a slow-moving, raw portrait of love, loss and hope set among the ruins of Christchurch post-quake, is an intimate ode to relationships and human connections; our frailties and quirks and the exploration of rebuilding something that once was, and may be again.
Make no mistake, this is not a sombre film either. There are unexpected moments of whimsy and laugh-out-loud lines that seem to take the audience by surprise and add some fantastic contrast to the soft touch the rest of the film embodies.It ultimately feels real, like this is two people you know (or maybe even have been), in a city you will also recognise and relate to in some way.
Sunday is a film that deserves to be watched, enjoyed, and talked about.
Reviewed by Natalie Ridler