Sunday’s Illness (La Enfermedad del Domingo) – Review [Tribeca 2018]

Sunday’s Illness is playing at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival. Find screening information HERE. Or view on Netflix later this year.

I guess as a film critic I’m expected to be a tad pretentious, which means Sunday’s Illness would garner a 5-star review. Realistically though, I tried to find every positive aspect of this film, and there aren’t many. This Spanish movie is a great character study, but a total sleep inducer at the same time.

The story follows Annabel (Susi Sanchez) who seems to have everything. She’s a successful businesswoman. She has a wealthy husband, and a place in society. But she also harbors a secret in her past, and one day, while hosting an opulent dinner party, that secret comes to call. After the meal, Annabel is confronted by Chiara (Barbara Lennie), a member of the catering staff who is really *gasp* the child Annabel abandoned over thirty years prior. The daughter, who was eight years old when her mother left, isn’t interested in money. She has a single, unusual request: that Annabel spend ten days with her in a remote house in the mountains and then she will leave her alone forever.

It’s an intriguing and promising setup, setting the stage for something great. Unfortunately, the rest of Sunday’s Illness is drawn out and the conclusion proves to be too little, too late. The “reveal” of the daughter’s true intentions is a decent twist, but it is not worth sitting through what comes before.

This is probably the most boring film I have ever watched. It moves along so slowly, I couldn’t wait to get out of the theater. I kept waiting and waiting for a character to have a moment of catharsis, a scene where either the mother or daughter finally snapped at the other. Some form of release that would make at least a few minutes exciting. But it never came.

Some viewers will find the saving grace to be the direction and acting. Ramon Salazar Hoogers, who also wrote the film, is a master at allowing silence to speak as loudly as words. His close-up shots of the actress’ faces have so much emotion packed into every frame. Sunday’s Illness is an eerily beautiful meditation on an unconventional maternal bond. It just didn’t work for me.

I give Sunday’s Illness a D+.