Written and Directed by Paul Holbrook & Sam Dawe
Starring Brian Croucher, Annabel Leventon
Short Film Review by Chris Olson
Heartbreaking and stunningly filmed, short film Sunday Worship, written and directed by Paul Holbrook and Sam Dawe, is an unforgettable piece of storytelling, combining emotional heft with aching tragedy.
Brian Croucher plays an elderly man whom the audience meets at the beginning of Sunday Worship clutching an Order of Service whilst sat at a bus stop. Having had his interest piqued whilst walking past a football match, our protagonist decides to ingratiate himself with the footballers and fans, becoming increasingly obsessed with them over the course of the film. Meanwhile, his loving wife (played marvellously by Annabel Leventon) displays copious amounts of trepidation about her husband's lifestyle and failing mental health.
Poignant and superbly timed, Holbrook and Dawe prove themselves as incredibly effective filmmakers. The tone of the short is a wonderful balance of subtle grief and sorrow peppered with moments of joy and even a little bit of black comedy - such as the microwaving of a metal utensil or watching a substitution at one of the matches where one player comes off and continues to smoke the cigarette of the man coming on. Overall, though, there is an overwhelming sense of tragedy to Sunday Worship which is expertly conveyed in Croucher's brilliantly nuanced performance.
There were some excellent cinematic sequences during the movie which made it stand out from others of this genre. Watching a kettle boil into oblivion, whilst arguably a tad cliched, offers a tender moment of reflection for the audience who are gripped by the vulnerability being conveyed through the character whilst being audibly assaulted by the hissing screech of the steam. Another standout moment comes in the form of a distance shot of Croucher sat lonely in the pub whilst the football team celebrates in jovial drunkenness. To explain why this is particularly moving would be to spoil the story, but it is a great visual representation of the disenfranchisement which many of the older generation experience for numerous reasons.
If criticism was to be found it would most likely land on the choice to use a couple of upbeat punk rock tracks over some set pieces of the football. These felt tonally inconsistent with everything else in the short film and came too early in the story to signify any importance in the character's history. It did offer a nice juxtaposition to the sadder aesthetic of the film and story but therein were the more affecting aspects.
Aside from that, this is an utterly compelling piece of dramatic filmmaking coupled with expert storytelling.
Watch the official movie trailer for Sunday Worship below...
Or watch the short film for free as part of the UK Film Channel below...