There are films where you feel as if you know exactly what’s going to happen and then there are films that catch you totally off-guard, like a punch in the gut. José Andrés Cardona’s Sundays is a film that falls into the latter category. Opening with a scene of two friends meticulously preparing for a driving lesson, this 11-minute short takes a turn for the unexpected as the pair quickly find their domestic lives crumbling all around them.
Narratively, Sundays relies on somewhat of a u-turn to really deliver its impact, but despite the strength of its story the film’s success lies largely in the hands of its lead actors. Cardona’s short is only really powerful if you can buy into the characters and Leo Bifulco and Rob Aloi do a great job of making them feel real.
With many of the film’s most powerful scenes captured through a series of close-ups and with little dialogue, the actors are asked to portray a range of emotions through facial expression alone – with the eyes playing a large part in letting the audience know what’s going on. Bifulco is particularly good at this. In the final scene as his character Tommy discusses a broken furnace over a phone call with his mother, we get to experience what’s really go on in his mind through his actions and reactions.
“The short started with the characters”, Cardona explains when discussing how the area of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn had inspired his story. “Two of these guys from the neighborhood, part of the community in every way, living up to their stereotypes and expectations, but ultimately not really fitting in and only being able to be honest with each other in short bursts. Sundays after church, when you’ve fulfilled your morning obligations with the family and can go hang out and “watch the game for a bit” before dinner. That’s where these guys can be free”.
Sundays is a character-driven short that manages to fit a lot of emotion into a narrative that comes in at just under 10-minutes (minus credits). It’s a film that feels both leisurely-paced and full of story and credit for that has to go to writer/director Cardona.
This is the filmmaker’s second time on Short of the Week as he was also writer, producer and cinematographer on Hunt Beaty’s The Sound of your Voice. José continue to make films with Hunt and fellow filmmaker Wesley Wingo, Sundays is their third film working together (they rotate directorial duties), they plan to make another three with two of these already nearing completion.