A Year in Shorts Day 270: "Sunday"
Of all the childhood experiences I’m not nostalgic for, sitting around bored while at a gathering of adults ranks high on the list. (Granted, I still get bored at gatherings of adults, it’s just that now I’m expected to be able to hold a conversation with them.) I imagine this is a universal experience for a lot of us, and that certainly seems to be the case with Patrick Doyon, writer and director of today’s short, Sunday.
Released in 2011, Sunday (or Dimanche for all you Francophones out there) is another short from our friends at the NFBC. Inspired by Doyon's own childhood, it tells the story of a boy who, in order to keep himself entertained while visiting his grandparents, fills time by flattening pennies on railroad tracks. Luckily for him (and the audience), this is a much more light-hearted Canadian short than our last one, so this rather dangerous hobby doesn't lead to his horrific death. Instead what follows is a cute, if fairly unremarkable, short that perfectly captures the feeling of being bored on a Sunday afternoon, perhaps a little too well. Still, while Sunday might not be the most interesting short we've covered, there's nevertheless a fair bit to enjoy. It's got a quirky sense of humor and a unique style, which is certainly more than some shorts we've watched. If that sounds like something you might enjoy, you can check it out on the NFBC website here.
(via TV Tropes)
Doyon's animation style is definitely the standout element in this short. Everything is just slightly off-kilter, resulting in a lot of really unique perspective shots. Perspective is something which Doyon plays with a lot during the film, which I suppose is fitting for a short told from a child's point of view. I especially like the absurdly large trains which pass through the incredibly small town. When combined with the very simplistic, cartoony characters, it gives off the vibe of a weird indie comic come to life. (The fact that the short has no real dialogue but instead communicates people's thoughts through little thought bubbles certainly adds to this.) I especially like Doyon's way of drawing birds, which appear as nothing more than little blobs with beaks attached. The short also has a very random sense of humor, which can probably be said to reflect the imaginative ramblings of a bored child. There's a sort of "anything goes" mentality like you might see in much older cartoons, albeit delivered in a much more lowkey and borderline melancholy way. (The latter feeling is certainly helped by the accordion heavy score by Luigi Allemano, which is lovely to listen to.) I don't really know if I find any of it particularly funny, but it's certainly different.
Which is probably a good way to sum up the short as a whole, if I'm honest. Sunday is not a great film, but I'm nevertheless glad I watched it. I don't like to give too much credit for originality, but it's not something which should go ignored either. In a cinematic landscape where even our indie films seem to follow a house style, it's important to appreciate someone who tries something a little different. I think that's been one of the nice things about doing this Year in Shorts; short films, less beholden to commercial interests or studio expectations, allow artists to explore new ideas and shape their voice. They may not always be great, but they're usually pretty interesting, especially nowadays. So if you're in the mood for something a little offbeat, Sunday might just be the short for you.
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