A Month of Sundays
A Month of Sundays
10 May 2016
Rating: PG Release Date: 28 April
“You’ll never see anything like it in a month of Sundays,” was a favourite expression in the farming community I grew up in, and it serves for a suitable title for a new Australian drama starring Anthony Lapaglia. It’s an endearing tale about Frank, a real estate agent given an opportunity to resolve his greatest regret, which is certainly something that doesn’t come around every day.
A Month of Sundays is filmed in the picturesque suburbs of Adelaide. It makes good use of the dry wit of veteran funny man John Clarke as Frank’s boss, Phillip Lang, however, it is in essence a story about a man’s need to turn a corner in his life.
Lapaglia stars as Frank, a middle-aged man who has good reasons to feel remorse. Career-wise, Frank is in something of a slump. He’s a real estate agent in the midst of a property boom who struggles to make any house sound good. His marriage to Wendy (Justine Clarke) has faltered and ended in divorce, even though she still finds herself constantly returning to him for support. Yet his son, Frank jnr, treats his father with all the disappointment a teenage boy can muster and his disdain regularly defeats his father’s attempts to connect.
However, it’s Frank’s regrets over his mother that take centre stage. She died at a time when they were emotionally distant and her passing has left him feeling as though he never had the opportunity to let her go. Consequently, when elderly Sarah (Julia Blake) makes a misdial and telephones his home one evening, Frank has no problem believing it’s his mother ringing for one last chat. Lapaglia and Blake’s on-screen interaction is pitch perfect, a combination of Mother And Son and Driving Miss Daisy. Their awkwardly begun friendship blossoms into a relationship that helps Frank discover the emotional release that drives the plot.
There’s something encouraging but equally peculiar about cinema’s penchant for second-chance stories like Frank’s. They trade on the fact that we have no trouble believing anyone can experience an opportunity for redemption. Most revolve around a key moment wherein the character makes a choice to follow a path different to the one that has characterised their failed years. A Month of Sundays’ relentless call to Frank to improve himself eventually results in a similar rise from the sackcloth and ashes of his previous life. But how realistic is this sort of transformation? As my farming community used to say, how many men can really lift themselves up by their own boot laces?
In truth, most of us mistake moving on for the process of redemption. Audiences will warm to Sarah and Frank’s story but, even though he learns to get over his mother’s passing, there’s no real indication that he’s actually learnt from the experience – unless it’s the suggestion that the world is still a beautiful place despite its many tragedies. In Frank’s case, it’s not so much repentance or even change that takes place as a decision to no longer let the past worry him.
A Month of Sundays is a clever, warmhearted Australian tale that is well worth seeking out at the cinemas. It underlines how strongly we can feel the everyday sadness of losing those most closely connected to us. Yet it doesn’t need God on any of its Sundays because the characters don’t require any real rescue.