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7.9/10, my review: http://wp.me/p1eXom-2uB
I've always wanted to live in the shoes of the self-congratulating extrovert, the kind who seems to have an endless number of friends but, in reality, goes from person to person depending on how enticing an offer is, looking at people as pastimes but not ... people. What keeps them awake at night, what their fears are, we can hardly tell: they seem to have it all, being the most-talked about and most well-liked person in the room that, oddly, no one actually seems to know. What is it like being a charismatic user? As an introvert who oft cares too much, the characteristic fascinates me.
One such self-congratulating extrovert is "Sunday Bloody Sunday's" Bob Elkin (Murray Head), a bisexual artist carrying on affairs with Daniel Hirsch (Peter Finch), a Jewish family doctor, and Alex Greville (Glenda Jackson), an employment office worker reeling from a recent divorce. To Daniel and Alex, Bob is a real-life Jesus, a youthful free-spirit easily able to heal their self-doubts and everyday frustrations. But to Bob, Daniel and Alex are different kinds of delicacies, appetizing only when the mood is right. They're good times, not individuals with feelings. The second things begin to become real, he drifts to the other.
Daniel and Alex know of one another, and are aware that Bob is using both of them, but, being middle-aged and lonely, they'd rather continue lying to themselves that their affair is one of love to feel whole. How much longer they can continue to be pieces of meat to be snacked on during times of hunger they aren't so sure; but the idea of being alone once again is far too terrifying to admit.
"Sunday Bloody Sunday" is a coercive character study, one so subtle that we have to find deeper meaning within ourselves, to feel Daniel and Alex's pain through empathy and not bouts of overacting. Schlesinger's direction, choosing understated moxie over explain-it-all, wishy washy artifice, lets human emotion speak for itself. Like in people we'd find roaming around the streets, announced misery is not something to expect; to look into the eyes, the mannerisms, of such individuals is far more revealing than wholesale melodrama. Released at the beginning of the 1970s, among the finest decades in film, it is one of the many cinematic works of the era that chose to make something extraordinary out of the ordinary, not something ordinary out of the extraordinary like so many pieces released decades prior.
It is also particularly seminal for the way it treats homosexuality and bisexuality, which are not presented as taboo but rather everyday - sexuality is unspoken, never alienated. Daniel is a successful doctor who isn't much bothered by his sexual orientation; Bob is not defined by who he sleeps with. Because of the film normalizes these features and therefore does not make them focal points, we find ourselves watching a character study regarding desperate loneliness, not out to break any walls. We are enticed by the way it questions how people act when faced with crippling solitude, who they're attracted to less than important. And that, for being released at a time where anything culturally out of the ordinary was pushed aside, is a major accomplishment.
But I was most taken aback by the performances, the actors so in touch with their characters that we can identity their personal demons with the ferocity of a clairvoyant. Finch is sensitive and slightly eccentric as a man oppressed his entire life; his character's relationship with Bob is not pulsing alive with love, instead working as representation of one of the few times in his life where he hasn't had to hide who he truly is. Jackson, as authoritative and articulate as she is vulnerable, provides her character with stark acuteness that proves that Alex is so in love with being kissed, being slept with, that she'd rather ignore reality just to have the sensations continue. Quietly villainous, Head convinces in the way his character is thoroughly unaware of his narcissistic ways.
There is no climax in "Sunday Bloody Sunday," and there is relatively no designated plot structure to speak of. It burgeons on the complexities of human relationships, sexuality, and the lurking torrent of the mid-life crisis - it creeps up on us, its emotional impact huge but nearly silent.
This trailblazing Schlesinger classic features an unusual love triangle and great performances from Finch & Jackson.
What a strange early seventies British film. I must admit when I first saw the title I thought of Northern Ireland and then I saw it starred Glenda Jackson in one of the lead roles.
The film focuses on the bizarre love triangle between two couples one Bob Elkin and divorcee Alex Greville (Jackson) and the other Bob Elkin and Dr. Daniel Hirsh. Yes your eyes don't deceive you. The character Bob Elkin has both a heterosexual and gay relationship at the same time and what's even more bizarre about the arrangement is that both Greville and Hirsh know about it.
The film is pretty slow going nowadays but back in 1971 when it was made it was critically acclaimed and had Oscar nominations and BAFTA wins.
We learn that Elkin is about to leave both relationships to pursue work in New York. What will each patner left in the UK do?
Added to this is Dr. Hirsh's Jewish background and Greville's childhood memories and parents.
Director John Shlesinger carves a love story between three people.
It took me two viewings to make it through the 110 minutes.
Bold in it's day, the film is not "shocking" as it must have been in 1971, but it is still clever, intelligent and brilliantly made.
Of course, what was progressive then is now mundane, but its mundanity is kind of what makes it progressive even today; no histrionics or forced drama, just people loving who they love, and mourning when that love is taken away and then moving on with their lives. It's very rare in fiction (with good reason; only the surest of hands can make it work) so it's nice to see it happen every so often.
Something new for the time period. Good acting and character development.
Glenda Jackson and the late Peter Finch deliver a solid drama and exploration of relationships but cannot be considered among the top pantheon of films.
Schlesinger at his very best. It was considered shocking when it was first released but it's one of those films that I MUST see at least twice a year. It's definitely a big influence on the directors of the new queer cinema, of which many weren't even born when it was first released. The critics loved it so, while it was well respected, people stayed away in droves. Their loss.
Who the hell cares what eventually happened to this ménage à trois?