We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.
"Sunday'' opens like a documentary, watching the residents of a halfway house get up for the day, shave, dress, pour coffee and continue what seem to be eternal arguments about what is or isn't "community property.'' Then it cuts outside, to the wintry gray streets of Queens, and what appears to be a large green plant walking down the street. The plant is in the arms of a woman who spots a man, walks up to him, and calls him Matthew Delacorta. He is, she says, the famous movie director, who she met in London.
He is not. He is Oliver (David Suchet), a middle-aged man who lives in the shelter, where he is generally disliked, and spends his days wandering the streets. But he is so astonished to be addressed in this way that he goes along with the misunderstanding, pretending to be the director. The woman's name is Madeleine (Lisa Harrow), and she is a British actress, once a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, but now reduced, she confesses, to playing "mutant zombies.'' They talk. Their talk will occupy most of the movie--the best parts, certainly--as they sit in a diner, drink wine at her nearby home, and eventually have sex. But "Sunday'' is not a romance, and they are not flirting but crying for help, for companionship, for another voice against the loneliness.
"Sunday'' won the screenwriting award at the 1997 Sundance Festival (it also won the Grand Jury Prize), and its writing, by James Lasdun and the director, Jonathan Nossiter, is its best quality. It is about two people who were once good at what they did, who were "downsized'' in one way or another, and who now feel stranded and worthless. "When they ask what do you do,'' he says, "they mean, who are you?'' He eventually tells her who he was once, and what he is now.
She had a crisis in her career--a loss of voice, or perhaps a loss of the will to speak onstage--and notes that her agent mostly sends her horror roles: "I guess I'm too old to play a human being.'' Oliver could, in a way, make the same statement.