Spanning twenty four hours in the lives of Eve (Packed to the Rafters Camille Keenan) and Charlie (Dustin Clare of McLeod’s Daughters fame), New Zealand film Sunday takes a thoughtful look at the complexities of love and life in a fragmented world. Set in post-quake Christchurch the city’s mix of fragility and resilience mirrors the relationship of our tentative couple as they attempt to re-establish bonds of trust and relationship broken by the vagaries of life.
Eve is pregnant and a significant way along. Charlie is the growing baby’s father but the pair have not connected in months, separated by space—Charlie still resides in Australia, where they met—and, more significantly, a clash of life priorities. Over the course of the visit a previously earned ease and familiarity surfaces and helps restore some of their lost intimacy. But this intimacy eventually leads into the less easily navigated traverse of the couple’s unavoidable relationship obstacles. They clearly retain a love for one another but is this love enough to bridge the divide between them?
Beautifully shot, director Michelle Lloyd and DOP husband Ryan Lloyd showcase Christchurch and its surrounds in crisp digital HD with a variety of artful compositions and lighting choices. The film switches between current day and (mostly dialogue free) flashback at key junctures, successfully fleshing out the depth of relationship the pair obviously share. Combined with smart character interaction and an appropriately constrained runtime (the film tells its story in a refreshing 72mins!) these compelling visuals make for a pleasurable viewing experience.
Dustin—from whom the story had its genesis—and Camille bring a natural chemistry to the production which lends their on-screen relationship a sense of vital authenticity. The nuanced performances convey a palpable tension between passion and frustration; hope and resignation. Where the film struggles occasionally is in the script. There is the odd line or interaction that sticks out like a sore thumb. For example a scene where Charlie, responding defensively to something Eve has said, comments about New Zealand men being emasculated by a nation of feminist women. You can see where they are trying to go in terms of the character but in interactions like this the script intrudes, pulling away from otherwise very natural feeling conversations the characters engage in. Despite these few foibles the majority of the writing is seamless and Lloyd and co wisely resist the temptation for easy resolution at the film’s conclusion. Instead the filmmakers leave the audience up in the air to extrapolate out for themselves on issues that have a universal relevance in terms of the kinds of choices we all have to make at various stages of our own relationships.
In a bumper year for New Zealand cinema Sunday can hold its head up high as a fine meditation on both human relations and the relationship we have with the places in which we live and love.
Rating: M Sex scenes.