tv + film by Philbert Dy

Bad Comedy Smothers the Tender Heart of ‘Seven Sundays’

Oddly mean-spirited stabs at humor negate a lot of what’s good about this family drama

NBHD movie 2 ticketsSeven Sundays is about the Bonifacio siblings: Bryan (Dingdong Dantes), Cha (Cristine Reyes), Allan (Aga Muhlach), and Dex (Enrique Gil). The film begins with each of them finding some reason to not show up for the birthday of their father Manuel (Ronaldo Valdez). That same night, Manuel gets news that he has cancer, and that he has around two to six months to live. He asks his kids for one last wish before he dies: that they all spend the next few Sundays together as a family. And so, the siblings are forced to deal with their individual issues, as they each bring their baggage back home.Screen Shot 2017-10-12 at 12.34.45 PMThat baggage turns out to be the weakest part of the story. The individual problems of the siblings more often than not involve cartoonish side characters that display an unflattering mean streak on the part of the filmmakers. It ultimately clashes with the tender heart of the movie, which works best when it revels in the loving familiarity that the characters share. This is a sweet movie overall, but it could have done without its outsized exterior conflicts. There is already plenty of drama to be found in the family dynamics of these siblings.Screen Shot 2017-10-12 at 12.36.04 PMThe movie can be a little clumsy in laying out the plot. There is a pretty important point in the middle that has Manuel voicing out the details of his internal conflict, helpfully explaining it for the benefit of no one in particular. He might as well have said “this is going to be a problem later in the story.” But the movie can be pretty elegant as well, letting the histories of these siblings emerge organically simply from the way that they treat each other. What the film gets right is just how much can go unspoken among family: how old wounds fester, and how hard it is to be honest to those who know you best.Screen Shot 2017-10-12 at 12.36.55 PMThat stuff is real enough that it really hurts every time the movie brings in its contrived external conflicts. The script is just too careful to make the characters feel blameless, so there is scant real personal drama in a lot of these choices. We don’t really see Allan, for example, make the bad business choices that make the family store struggle. We don’t see Dex have to deal with the people chasing him. Instead, the film makes it out to be a misunderstanding setting up comedic scenes where he has to hide from them. In all these scenes, people are made out to be buffoons, which really cut into the real sentiment that exists in the scenes involving familial strife.Screen Shot 2017-10-12 at 12.37.29 PMThe film just gets distracted, as if weirdly insecure about its dramatic content. The film’s ending is one of the biggest emotional cop-outs of all time, basically negating the tender moment captured in its emotional climax. It’s really sad, especially since the cast does a pretty good job at selling the film’s central drama. Aga Muhlach, Dingdong Dantes, Cristine Reyes, and Enrique Gil don’t look much like siblings, but they collectively nail their roles within the family dynamic. Ronaldo Valdez hams it up a bit too far, but he mostly gets away with it. The mistake the film makes is building its comedy on status, these actors coming off badly as they deign to deal with people who aren’t as conventionally attractive as they are.Screen Shot 2017-10-12 at 12.37.55 PMSeven Sundays has good moments in it, but a lot of it is negated by the latent meanness exhibited in other sequences. Its drama can be gentle, but the comedy is blunt and built entirely on status. The film’s last sequence, which abandons the sweet sentiment in favor of mawkish comedy, and has the protagonists inexplicably sending an antagonist away crying, is really indicative of what goes wrong in this film. It has something, but it adds this layer of unpleasant, unspoken elitism into the mix, leaving a bad taste in the mouth.

SEVEN SUNDAYS IS NOW SHOWING IN CINEMAS NATIONWIDE
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Philbert Dy
Philbert Ortiz Dy has been reviewing movies professionally since 2007, and has thus dedicated his life to being yelled at by fans of literally everyone. He is currently the Online Editor of Rogue.ph. Yell at him on Twitter at @philbertdy.
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