A Sunday in the Country

Hmm, it figures that after watching a few good movies in a row, I'd get to one I felt really meh about. Today's movie - A Sunday in the Country, directed by Bertrand Tavernier in 1984 - is sort of slow and meandering, a French Ozu. It's a story focused on just a French family and their doings one afternoon. It just didn't work for me tonight, when I felt so sleepy, and like I've been fighting a cold or something. You know how it gets. A sleepy little movie was just not what I was interested in tonight.

I feel frustrated writing this because I can see that this movie is great for all the reasons that Ozu's films are great. I just...didn't like this one. I didn't like the characters, I found the story to be too mundane and normal. Watching people nap and climb trees was a little too tiring and I just wasn't feeling it. I don't get why I love Ozu and this fell flat for me, but alas, such is life.

 The movie, like I said above, is mostly about a family spending the day in the country. It's interesting because it shows, through normal interactions, how the characters feel, and what they expect out of life. I liked that aspect of the film - and I liked the idea of it. There was just something that didn't work for me. Maybe it had too much boring for too long, and not enough story or character development for me to stay tuned in.

I have to admit that I did watch the worst copy of this ever. Netflix suddenly removed the disc entirely, and I couldn't find a DVD copy for under $100 for some reason. I ended up buying a used VHS tape on Amazon for $2, an old library rental (the genre sticker simply reads "French"). I know VHS is old, but sometimes it can still look decent. This was the worst picture quality. It was all fuzzy and messy and sloppy, and it looked like maybe only three colors were used in the entire thing. It's not really good form to complain that the copy I had made me enjoy the movie less, but it's honest. I don't think this was the fault of the seller, it just was a really horrible transfer on one really smelly VHS tape.

I wish I could be a little more articulate about this, but I am really having a hard time nailing down why I disliked this and like Ozu's movies. I know the bad VHS transfer did not help, and I thought it was a little slow at parts. When it became too quiet and normal, I sort of would lose interest. That's my problem, though, not the film's. I would imagine that most people who love Ozu would love this movie. I hope that not everyone is as weird as me, but it's a short movie, and even though I didn't love it, I still think it's worth giving it a shot.

Have any thoughts on A Sunday in the Country? Share them in the comments!

Ebert's Great Movie Essay on A Sunday in the Country
Buy it on Amazon