Reviewed by GREG KING

Director: Michelle Lloyd

Stars: Dustin Clare, Camille Keenan.

This simple, low budget New Zealand and Australian co-production is a two-handed romantic drama that is reminiscent of the Before trilogy from Richard Linklater. It basically follows a couple as they wander through the streets of Christchurch while they try to work out where their relationship stands.

Charlie (Dustin Clare, from tv series Spartacus, etc) left his florist girlfriend Eve (Camille Keenan, a regular in tv series like Packed To The Rafters, etc) behind when he enlisted in the army as a driver for military convoys. After a five month absence he has returned briefly during a stopover and reconnect during a day spent wandering the city and revisiting familiar places that have significance to their relationship. The day is full of awkward moments, tenderness, and uncertainty during this temporary bonding session. Eve is heavily pregnant now, and Charlie is unsure of where the relationship is headed. As they walk and talk details of their shared past and their personalities and hopes and fears are slowly teased out.

The location adds an extra dimension to the existential nature of the dialogue. Christchurch was severely damaged by the 2011 earthquake, and the broken city, with its cracked and crumbling facades, becomes a powerful metaphor for their broken relationship.

Sunday is a true collaboration between real life couple Clare and Keenan, who cowrote the script with first time director Michelle Lloyd, and cinematographer Ryan Alexander Lloyd. Lloyd works with long steady takes, but he also occasionally works in closeup, which adds to the intimacy of the film.

Charlie is not an easy character to warm to, but Clare invests him with a rugged edge. Given their off screen relationship Clare and Keenan share an easy going chemistry and rapport that enriches the thin material and their performances seem natural and unforced.

Sunday deals with themes of rebuilding, second chances and hope for the future. First time feature director Lloyd handles the material with compassion, honesty and warmth. At times the pace seems a little too languid and the lack of urgency and tension holds the film back from being great. But at a brisk 71 minutes it never outstays its welcome.



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