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Sunday Bloody Sunday

Posted by martinteller on December 8, 2012

Bob Elkin (Murray Head) is a young, free-spirited artist.  He bounces back and forth between two lovers.  One is Alex (Glenda Jackson), a woman recently divorced, unsatisfied with her office job.  The other is Daniel (Peter Finch), a doctor.  Each knows about the other… in fact, they share not only a lover, but both use the same answering service and are friends with the same family.  Each person in this unorthodox love triangle struggles to find what works for him or herself, trying to find out if something truly is better than nothing.

Schlesinger’s follow-up to Midnight Cowboy is notable for its casual, matter-of-fact treatment of homosexuality and bisexuality.  No one is the slightest bit torn up about it, except for some indications than Daniel hides it from his devoutly Jewish family.  The kiss between Finch and Head is handled with the utmost naturalism, neither lurid nor florid… just a tender kiss between people who care about each other.

There’s a lot going on here.  The overall theme of the film seems to be people merely coping with the difficult situations life constantly throws in our path.  Stories of the economic crisis dominate the airwaves and headlines.  Junkies populate an all-night pharmacy.  A family pet is killed.  A middle-aged couple wonder if it’s better for their daughter to die rather than to live paralyzed.

It’s an intriguing touch that Bob’s art seems primarily focused on different perpetual motion devices, indicating his inability to settle down.  There are other interesting bits as well, like the sudden flashbacks and the unexpected ending.  The focus on the machinery of the telephones at the answering service, however, was perplexing to me.  Its significance, if there is one, was lost on me.

Ultimately the film kind of reminded me of a toned-down Nic Roeg.  I appreciated the artistry of it, the way the pieces come together, but it didn’t resonate deeply with me.  It’s a fine and sometimes bold character study, with good performances (especially Finch) and thoughtful construction.  Not quite my cup to tea, though.  Rating: Good (75)


4 Responses to “Sunday Bloody Sunday”

  1. JamDenTel said

    Did you get Albert Finney confused with Peter Finch?

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