Review: ‘Sunday Light’

A stately, well-crafted, sometimes potent period drama about a family tragedy in a northern Spanish village, "Sunday Light" again shows Jose Luis Garci far from cinema's cutting edge.

A stately, well-crafted, sometimes potent period drama about a family tragedy in a northern Spanish village, “Sunday Light” again shows Jose Luis Garci far from cinema’s cutting edge. Helmer’s trademarks are top-notch visuals, sentimentality, literariness, characters conceived theatrically rather than realistically and an unashamedly old-fashioned shooting style, all of which are present and correct here. Garci buffs will lap it up, but “Light” looks unlikely to illuminate non-Spanish-speaking territories. Local biz has been good for the Nov. 16 release.

In early 20th-century Spain, Urbano (Alex Gonzalez) arrives in a small village to be a secretary at the town hall. He falls for Estrella (Paula Echeverria), the daughter of local landowner Joaco (Alfredo Landa). Politically, the town is split in two, with the forces of evil repped by mayor Atila (Carlos Larranaga). Urbano tries to remain neutral but, shortly before his wedding to Estrella, his neutrality is punished when she’s raped by Atila’s sons. Classic treatment means pic’s themes never become remotely contemporary and most characters, apart from Landa’s Joaco, are brushstrokes. Lovingly lensed scenery and lush score further root things in the cinematic past.

Sunday Light

Spain

Production

A Sony Pictures Releasing (Spain) release of a Nickel Odeon Dos production, with participation of TVE, Telemadrid, Canal Plus. (International sales: Nickel Odeon Dos, Madrid.) Produced by Jose Luis Garci. Executive producer, Salvador Gomez Cuenca. Directed, edited by Jose Luis Garci. Screenplay, Garci, Horacio Valcarcel, based on a story by Ramon Perez de Ayala.

Crew

Camera (color), Felix Monti; music, Pablo Cervantes; art directors, Gil Parrondo, Julian Mateos. Reviewed at Cines Acteon, Madrid, Nov. 19, 2007. Running time: 111 MIN.

With

Alfredo Landa, Paula Echevarria, Alex Gonzalez, Kiti Manver, Manuel Galiana, Toni Acosta, Carlos Larranaga, Andrea Tenuta, Enrique Villen, Francisco Algora.
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