Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what I’ve seen over the past week either in film or television. On the film side, if I have written a full length review already, I will post a link to that review. Otherwise, I’ll give a brief snippet of my thoughts on the film with a full review to follow at some point later. For television shows, seasons and what not, I’ll post individual comments here about each of them as I see fit.
So, here is what I watched this past week:
Sunday Bloody Sunday
British director John Schlesinger’s character drama features one of the earliest depictions of a confident and successful gay man on the big screen. Hot on the heels of his seminal work with Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight in Midnight Cowboy, Schlesinger kept his camera tightly trained on challenging subjects, never flinching from a largely hostile environment for such depictions.
Peter Finch was one of the braver actors working in world cinema with his portrayal of Dr. Daniel Hirsh, a well-adjusted consulting doctor who is having an affair with a selfish, bisexual young artist played by Murray Head. Head’s Bob Elkin is simultaneously climbing under the covers with a tangential acquaintance of the doctor’s, Alex Greville, a determined portrayal by prominent actress Glenda Jackson. As both Daniel and Alex navigate their dynamic feelings about the young playboy, they acknowledge his flagrant dalliances while hoping that they alone can convince him to stick around and not jet off to America as he’s frequently discussed.
Although not as cerebral as the French New Wave that preceded it, Sunday Bloody Sunday explores touchy emotional subjects with a unique perspective. Each of our impressive leads is given fantasy scenes that verge on realism, their minds having difficulty separating fiction and reality. In one particularly daring scene, superbly edited by Richard Marden, Alex envisions the accidental death of the young ward she’s looking after shortly after the girl’s carelessness led directly to the death of her family’s rottweiler. It’s a difficult segment and while Jackson’s performance helps sell the scene, it’s the carefully orchestrated series of cuts that jar the audience. We cannot help but feel a little disjointed with her, knowing the contorted young girl is a work of her imagination, yet feeling it’s as real as anything we see. Schlesinger made a wise decision not to add a hazy edge or heavily tilted angles to convey an unreal scene. It isn’t the first such scene, but it’s the best in the film.
Finch and Jackson were deservedly Oscar nominated for their minimalistic work in the film was was Schlesinger for Best Director and screenwriter Penelope Gilliatt for her deceptively complex screenplay.