Sunday Worship by Paul Holbrook and Sam Dawe

An old man struggles to hide his ailing health from his doting wife, then finds solace watching a local soccer team.

Jim Champion is a lonely man in his seventies who is obsessed with his local soccer team. Returning from a memorial service one day, he decides to walk home instead of taking the bus and ends up at a local league game. He immediately livens up — a marked contrast to his dour demeanor at home, where he barely says a word to his loving wife Rose.

But Rose can’t help but witness some strange changes in Jim, even as his new fandom intensifies. When she finally finds out what Jim is up to, it changes both their lives in powerful ways.

Directors Paul Holbrook and Sam Dawe’s dramatic short is an economic exercise in the power of performance to convey a quiet but important revelation in a couple’s life together. There isn’t much dialogue in the film, but actors Brian Croucher and Annabel Leventon communicate huge amounts of history and feeling in very few words, with just an absentminded gesture or worried glance.

The muted cinematography pays great attention to the small details of the couple’s life together, capturing a strong sense that these two characters have spanned an immense amount of time together. Their well-worn intimacy is both touching and ultimately devastating, since Jim eventually cannot sustain the illusion that all is well with him.

The film takes its time to unfold its final revelation, but when it does reveal itself, it comes with immense impact. As a quiet, touching portrait of a man grappling with the inexorable decline of old age — and how it affects the woman he’s spent his life with, “Sunday Worship” wrenches gently devastating heartbreak from a few well-chosed, carefully orchestrated cinematic elements.




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