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A MONTH OF SUNDAYS

SYNOPSIS: Real estate agent, Frank Mollard (Anthony LaPaglia) won't admit it, but he can't move on. Divorced but still attached, he can't sell a house in a property boom - much less connect with his teenage son, Frank Jr (Indiana Crowther). One night Frank gets a phone call from his mother. Nothing out of the ordinary. Apart from the fact that she died a year ago. Turns out to be a wrong number, but finding she sounds like his mother, Frank befriends Sarah (Julia Blake).

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Meandering through a variety of relationship issues, A Month Of Sundays doesn't really hits its stride until the end. That's a pity, because it is carried by an excellent cast, led by Anthony LaPaglia as Frank, in a fine, nuanced performance in which he conveys his character's emotional journey merely by his body language and demeanour. The film is bookended with Frank alone in a house for sale, but the difference between the moods is what the film is about. As nice as that is, it's not enough for me.

Too often I wished for more energy, more pace ... not so much in activity but emotional action. Too often the film drags with scenes that wane and too often the separated parents with a teenage son reprise the angst that make for those private pains we know so well.

There are some idiosyncratic touches, not least Bryony Marks' score, which has a few arresting cues as well as some trumpet cues taking us back to the 1960s scores of French films. She later sheds these for more traditional cues, but I prefer her more brazen work.

The storytelling plays on an unsettled riff about Frank and his unhappy divorce; he's the unhappy one. His wife, the lovely Justine Clark who has become a successful TV actress, seems to have been patched on to the screenplay, playing a prop; the screenplay needs her, uses her. It's not satisfying. Indiana Crowther as Frank Jr is terrific in a small role, and Julia Blake is wonderful as Sarah, the woman who mirrors Frank's late mother. Also top notch is Donal Forde as Sarah's son, Damien, in a role that's much more challenging than it may seem.

But the good things don't quite make up for the weaknesses, and the film's rather dour tone makes it a tough sell on word of mouth.

Review by Louise Keller:
A wrong number is the catalyst for change in this internal film about life, family and mortality in which the protagonist sees life through a prism of his real estate employment. It's a small film with a personality of its own that engages in a low-key sort of way, mostly due to Anthony LaPaglia's strong central performance. It's a change of pace for director Matthew Seville, whose last film Felony (2013) soared with its thriller and psychological elements, while in Noise (2007), Seville relied on his soundscape to effectively illustrate his point. Here, music is used as stylised punctuation, albeit less effectively. This is no reflection on Bryony's intriguing score but more about the way the music is used. The cast is excellent and everyone delivers, although I would have liked to have cared more for the characters. I felt as detached to the characters as the protagonist is to those around him.

When we meet Frank (LaPaglia), we enter his reality by the realtor sales pitch speak that resonates inside his head. "Meticulously renovated family home; untouched period charm; late Victorian style; scope to further improve..." His working life is a round of endless house inspections and auctions and Frank seems detached all the while. He is also disconnected from his TV soapie actress wife (Justine Clark), although he clearly has not come to terms with his divorce. His role as father to a teenage son (Indiana Crowther) is also forced. It is as though Frank is sleepwalking through his life.

We immediately sense the moment that Frank becomes connected. It happens when Sarah (Julia Blake) rings with the wrong number phone call that changes Frank's life and outlook. All the action is internal as we follow Frank onto the golf course with his boss (John Clarke), onto his wife's TV set and watching his son play football and flex his thespian muscles in the school play. The scene when Frank meets Sarah's IT expert son Damien (Donal Forde) is interesting in that it is the latter who seems like the stranger.

The film is about relationships and the longing for connection. The best scenes are those between LaPaglia and Blake, especially resonating when Sarah asks Frank to talk about his mother. His philosophical musings about her disappointments give us the greatest insights into the man striving to come to terms with his own.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 2

A MONTH OF SUNDAYS (PG)
(Aust, 2016)

CAST: Anthony LaPaglia, John Clarke, Julia Blake, Justine Clarke, Mikaela Davies, Donal Forde, Patrick Graham, Wayne Anthoney, Henry Nixon, Kylie Trounson

PRODUCER: Nick Batzias, Matthew Saville, Kirtsy Stark

DIRECTOR: Matthew Saville

SCRIPT: Matthew Saville

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Mark Wareham

EDITOR: Ken Sallows

MUSIC: Bryony Marks

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Robert Webb

RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Madman

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 28, 2016







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