Article Title:Sunday Bloody Sunday
Author or Credit:Chris Banks
Published on:28th December 2005 - 12:00 pm
Story ID:1052
Text:Review: SUNDAY BLOODY SUNDAY Dir: John Schlesinger UK, 1971, 35mm, 110mins Currently showing on Sky's MGM Channel Imagine, for a second, that you have a boyfriend – but on a timeshare arrangement with a woman. Probably a familiar scenario for some, but what if you and the woman were fully aware of each other's existence, and just quietly accepted the unsatisfactory three-way arrangement you found yourselves in? That is the scenario for Sunday Bloody Sunday, which caused much gasping back in 1971 because of – shock! – two men kissing and making love. One reviewer on IMDB remembers seeing the film on its release and having the audience scream when the blokes first locked lips. We can put the tiresome reactions of heterosexual audiences to one side when examining the film in a modern light (although one suspects the reaction would be much the same today). What was truly groundbreaking about Sunday Bloody Sunday was not the fact that it portrayed a romantic relationship between two men, but the way in which it was done. Gay director Schlesinger spends equal time on both relationships – between young inventor Bob (Murray Head) and thirty-something Alex (Glenda Jackson); and between Bob and forty-something doctor Daniel (Peter Finch). Nothing is played for sensationalism or shock value. Despite the clearly unsatisfactory predicament Alex and Daniel have found themselves in, there's barely a voice raised. But seeing as Bob is the type to go running off to his other lover at the slightest sign of things getting too difficult, you can see why Alex and Daniel probably don't want to rock the boat too much. What on earth do they see in Bob, you might be thinking at this point. This thought does occur during the film as well, as the characters eat, work, sleep and shag in a 1970's London that has scarcely seemed more cold, isolating and depressing. While modern-day lovers may sit by the cellphone waiting for a booty call text, Alex and Daniel are a step further removed, hooked into an antiquated message service at all hours just to see if Bob has left a message for either of them. Bob looks, at times, like a young Liam Neeson. He's quite handsome, and when he's around, he does seem to care. That's about it, though. Perhaps this film shows that people who are desperately in love will be willing to put up with anything rather than throw it away. If there's a word that sums up the mood of both Alex and Daniel it would be "resignation". There's no desire to fight for 100% of Bob's affections, nor does there seem to be any possibility in their minds that they could move on to more satisfying relationships. Neither Alex nor Daniel seem to be able to even define the relationship they have, it just is, and they seem to live for it. Bob, on the other hand, seems to be coping just fine. He's every person's nightmare of being in a relationship with a bisexual – how can they be expected to stay committed if they can't even decide which sex they want to sleep with? Bisexuals who've had to cope with that stereotype being lumped onto them can probably blame this film. But the driving force of the story doesn't come from wondering who Bob will choose. It comes from getting inside the heads of Alex and Daniel. Unlike a lot of formula films, which tell you everything you're "supposed" to know about the characters in the first ten minutes, we learn about Alex and Daniel's backgrounds throughout the film. We learn next to nothing about Bob, which is appropriate, because neither of his lovers seem to know much about him either. Sunday Bloody Sunday is a story about lonely people living quietly desperate lives. They're too "civilised" to do anything about it, though. Or perhaps they just can't be bothered. Maybe that's what living in London does to you. Chris Banks - 28th December 2005    
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