Sunday’s Illness: Healing a Broken Mother-Daughter Bond

Sunday’s Illness is Spanish director Ramon Salazar elegiac depiction of mother-daughter abandonment and reconciliation. The simple plot has wealthy grand matron Anabel (Susi Sanchez) facing off for ten days in the woods with Chiara (Barbara Lennie), the daughter she walked away from thirty-five years ago. Elegant visuals and precisely modulated performances make this two hander at times an emotional ghost story, a thriller, and almost a Grimm fairy tale.

Salazar generates suspense by withholding Chiara’s motivation and ultimate wish until the shocking end. He allows the emotional and lush visual layers to pile up so the story and actresses can do their work and allow the movie to achieve a sense of lore. Emotional control alternates between calm and fear, first from daughter to mother, than ultimately to mother until tragedy is transcended and synthesized into a permanent inheritance of all the good that has remained.

Nothing is stated or needs to be spelled out. The silences and fleeting expressions of character, the nuance portrayals create the understanding. It is all so emotionally and nakedly obvious. And that not only makes Sunday’s Illness good but near great.

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