A Slow Paced, Beautifully Written Spanish Drama
Beautifully written and methodically paced, Spanish drama Sunday’s Illness is a brutally devastating story about one woman’s decision that forever destroys her child’s life. Full of long, suffocating shots and poignant dialogue throughout, this artistic drama uses every trick in the book to accentuate the uneasy story being told. Those expecting something a little quicker paced or rife with fiery arguments and tense fights may be left wanting but for those with the patience to get through some of the longer scenes, there’s an emotionally charged narrative waiting to be discovered.
The story begins when long-stranded daughter Chiara (Bárbara Lennie) to an upper class lady Anabel (Susi Sánchez) shows up out of the blue requesting to spend 10 days with her estranged mother. Understandably suspicious, Anabel reluctantly agrees and the two go on a journey, both literally and metaphorically, to try and make amends as Chiara keeps quiet about her true intentions and Anabel is left guessing why she’s been brought along for the ride. For large portions of this 2 hour film there really isn’t much development, showing both women going about their own separate day to day activities before intertwining around the hour mark for a powerful, damaging final hour where all is revealed and the story reaches its emotional climax.
On the surface level, Sunday’s Illness really doesn’t do anything particularly unique or different that hasn’t been done elsewhere. Where it really stands out though is with the cinematography which is consistently impressive throughout. Long, drawn out shots accentuate the awkwardness between the two women and the dull, monotonous colour palette only further dissuades the feeling of enjoyment as the two women try to find some common ground. This artistic harmony spills over to the use of lighting which works parallel to the narrative; the brighter scenes are used when the two women find common ground or begin to bond while the dull colours are used while they’re separate or not bonding.
For all the good work done here, Sunday’s Illness is quite the acquired taste. There’s a certain artistic flavour to this film and the intense focus on the two women with little in the way of drama or thrills until very late on relies heavily on getting invested in the two women and their fractured relationship. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, the exhaustingly long shots don’t do the film many favours in terms of appealing to a broad audience who may not have the patience to sit through this one for the emotional pay off.
Aside from the fact Sunday’s Illness could be considered a bit of a niche film, there’s a beautifully written, artistically crafted story here about loss and familial ties that’s well worth watching. The two women are good in their roles and for the most part you do get the feeling that these two are alienated from one another with little in common. Late on, there is a slight increase in drama and tension but for the most part Sunday’s Illness focuses on the broken relationship between the two and it’s here that the film is at its strongest. While this Spanish drama is likely to be divisively received by the general public, there’s no denying that the film itself is technically sound and well acted throughout making for an enjoyable and competently shot film regardless.