Star Cinema's family drama Seven Sundays is hardly original in subject matter and treatment, but it is bound to resonate with moviegoers.
Anybody who has suffered estrangement from family will find himself drawn to this movie directed by Cathy Garcia-Molina.
Aging barangay captain Manuel Bonifacio (Ronaldo Valdez) is told on his birthday that he is suffering from lung cancer and has only seven weeks to live, prompting his four adult children to make room in their busy lives so their father can spend his remaining Sundays with them.
In these supposed last weeks of togetherness, the family members awkwardly and painstakingly try to create a semblance of normalcy, but unresolved issues and hidden trouble threaten to shatter their already fragile dynamics.
Enrique Gil, Cristine Reyes, Dingdong Dantes, and Aga Muhlach bring life to the Bonifacio siblings who try to reconnect with each other amidst this family crisis.
THE GOOD. As with most family dramas, Seven Sundays centers on a dysfunctional family, which makes the plot all too predictable.
In an effort to perhaps differentiate itself, the story unfolds in a way that tugs at ones’ heartstrings.
It succeeds, thanks largely to the fantastic acting and the script’s reflection of universal family issues as well as those that are unique to Filipino families such as parental absence due to overseas work.
Star Cinema assembled a powerhouse cast that meshes so well, it feels like a real model for a not-so-normal family.
Ronaldo Valdez plays Manuel with substance, befitting a father trying to assert his authority while attempting to get his estranged children to spend more time with him in his twilight years. Even when it all blows up in his face, he keeps a delicate balance between parental pride and regret.
Matching him in terms of screen presence are Aga Muhlach as Allan, the eldest of his children, and Dingdong Dantes as Brian, the more successful second child.
Aga has finally surrendered to roles that capitalize more on his acting ability rather than good looks, disappearing behind the character of a middle-aged father struggling to provide for his family while secretly jealous of his younger brother’s success.
Dingdong delivers an earnest performance as a well-meaning but under-appreciated family member struggling to prove his worth to his family.
Cristine Reyes, meanwhile, sheds her sexy image for her role as middle child Cha, who hides her personal troubles for fear of rebuke.
Enrique Gil, as the younger son Dex, is adorable as he feigns indifference, touching the hearts of moviegoers with his fragility.
This film features strong performances from the cast members, but they can only do so much when the story falls into the trap of conventional dramas.
THE BAD. Seven Sundays falters because of the perpetual need to wrap things up cleanly and amicably in an effort to reinforce moral values or provide an emotional cleansing for the audience.
However, doing so leaves the film with a clumsy ending, undoing the skillful unfurling of its dramatic sequences.
There is a dance showdown in the end, which is hilarious but is farcical at its best and is entirely unnecessary.
THE WORTHY. Still, the film gets a breath of fresh air from its male leads, who throw more drama than the women.
For a change, men here are portrayed as sensitive family members, unlike your typical indifferent brother or son more often seen in other family drama films.
See Seven Sundays with your siblings if you dare—you just might find yourself in the shoes of one if its characters.
Seven Sundays is graded A by the Cinema Evaluation Board.
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