Tony Mastroianni Review Collection
Ever on Sunday
Cleveland Press November 19, 1971
In an advertising influenced society many have a child-like longing for happiness. Most mature people know that it is not happiness (first bike, first love, first pay check) but contentment that is the ideal state.
The characters in "Sunday, Bloody Sunday" have trouble finding contentment and to achieve even that, have learned to compromise.
They have accepted the "Half-a-loaf-is-better-than-none" philosophy rather than the "all-or-nothing-at-all" belief. Compromise as theme, particularly in a modern movie, is rare.
Does this make "Sunday, Bloody Sunday" sound more important than it is? The picture is exasperating in many ways. There is nothing there when it is all over. Take the elements out of context and it is soap opera with sensational trappings, dialog that sounds more meaningful than it is, a collection of trivia.
It is not a movie for mass audiences in many ways. Director John Schlesinger is a cinematic slight of hand artist and this, more than his other pictures, is very much for the film buff.
The story's use of a homosexual relationship between two men will turn many people off. Perhaps even the heterosexual aspects will too.
Schlesinger also directed "Midnight Cowboy." "Sunday" has aspects that are inherently more sensational but which are less sensationally treated.
Considering the material the handling is a marvel of restraint. A director such as Ken Russell or Otto Preminger with their Jack-the-Ripper approach would have turned the affair into a horror.
"Sunday" says less about society than did "Cowboy," but more about the human condition.
The people and their story have an overlay of neuroticism that is fashionable today. They also behave outside the norms of societal acceptance, but accept it and talk about it in a manner referred to as "civilized."
The unusual triangle involves a young artist (Murray Head), a middle-aged doctor (Peter Finch) and a divorcee in her ‘30's (Glenda Jackson), dissatisfied with much in her life including her job.
The artist is the lover of both the woman and the doctor.
The young man is casually calloused, cool and conceited. His two lovers are aware of each other and the relationship is on his terms, not theirs.
The sharing is emphasized in other ways — they share the same answering service, the same friend. The doctor and the women are both from more conventional backgrounds. The artists' background is never indicated, but he is clearly lower class. The setting is London where class means more.
To spend two days with him the woman is willing to babysit with a friend's five children while the parents are away so they can share their home.
This is one of those ultra progressive families where the children are allowed to express themselves without limit. Leering remarks from kids ranging from lower elementary grades down through toddlers is a little much. So is having them smoking pot. If any of the sequences are strained, this one clearly is it.
The script is by Penelope Gilliatt, author and movie critic for the New Yorker (she alternates with Pauline Kael). It has the texture of a novel, as she plays with involved themes in oblique fashion.
The combination of Schlesinger and Miss Gilliatt obviously worked, his understated approach working with rather than destroying the nuances of her work.
Peter Finch turns in a total portrayal, so complete as to submerge the actor into the character. There are none of the outward trappings of the portrayal of a homosexual in speech or walk.
(Schlesinger leaves no doubt, however, what with an embrace and a kiss thrown in which may throw some of the audience.)
Glenda Jackson is better than she has been in the Ken Russell films — "Women In Love" and "The Music Lovers." She is not nearly so grotesque.
"People can manage on very little," the doctor tells a patient. It reveals much about himself. It also says something about the movie. Schlesinger has managed on very little.