Cannes 2024 Review: MOST PEOPLE DIE ON SUNDAYS, Affecting Funeral Drama Marred By Slow Pace

Argentinian actor Iair Said makes his feature filmmaking debut with a funeral drama.

Contributing Writer; New Jersey, USA (@fuzzyyarns)
Cannes 2024 Review: MOST PEOPLE DIE ON SUNDAYS, Affecting Funeral Drama Marred By Slow Pace
Personal, vaguely auto-fictional stories are de rigueur for first-time filmmakers, especially actors turning directors.Iair Said, seen in last year’s The Delinquents, makes an undistinguished debut after trying his hand at a couple of shorts.
Increasingly, subjects of coming-of-age tales are infantilized millennials, the point being they never came of age and have to do so in their 30s. Seeing teenagers grapple with adulthood can be stirring, but seeing 30-somethings do so can quickly get tiresome. Most People Die On Sundays, represents David’s (Iair Said) aimlessness almost too well as the film itself comes across as meandering, ill-formed and without a proper destination in mind.
David is a mid-30s student in Italy and Said begins the film in unsparing and self-effacing fashion. We see him in his underwear on the floor, flabby body and gut hanging out, weeping pathetically as his boyfriend dumps him. He then books a flight to Argentina, returning home to his family after a very long time. His reason for coming back is ostensibly to attend his uncle’s funeral but he’ll also get a chance to see his comatose father and comfort his distraught mother. 
Said fills in David’s life in Buenos Aires with life-like but excruciatingly banal detail. He takes driving lessons and a driving exam, runs errands, gets therapy and attends a gay party. His incurable horniness is a constant thread as he indiscriminately throws himself at any man who so much as looks at him.
He once purposefully locks himself out of his apartment so that he can spend some time in his handsome neighbor's house on the pretext of waiting for help. When the neighbor looks uninterested, David proceeds to masturbate in the neighbor’s bathroom.
Far more rewarding material is found in the story of his mother, Dora (Rita Cortese), who confronts the terror of loneliness in her old age as her husband lies in a vegetative state. Dora dutifully visits her unresponsive husband daily, manages finances and runs the household, with little help from David. She affects an acid-and-vinegar abrasive personality to mask just how vulnerable she feels.
This could be your average thankless ‘mother’ role but Said affords Cortese some dimension and cedes top billing to her, which she richly earns with her layered performance. It is Dora’s desire to euthanize her husband that lends emotional stakes to the film amid David’s directionless rambles. Said himself is excellent, as are Juliana Gattas and Antonia Zegers as his sister and cousin,  respectively.
A little bit of singularity is provided in the form of an Argentinian Jewish milieu, which we don’t often see on the screen. Burial rituals and Passover dinner practices are portrayed. Said also largely fulfills his desire of making a gay film where the protagonist’s sexuality is not the whole subject of the film, just an attribute of the character.
Most People Die On Sundays is eligible for the Queer Palme award, but David’s sexuality goes entirely unaddressed by the other characters in the film. Said also wanted to buck the convention of showing gay characters as invariably buff and modelesque, and gamely exhibits his less-than-perfect physique.
There is a lugubriousness in the bones of Most People Die On Sundays, even at 75 minutes. Not enough happens and the film feels like it was padded out from a short designed to be 35-40 minutes. Lethargic filmmaking in debut features is not at all uncommon and usually dissipates in subsequent films. Said’s emotional acuity, though, and unique vantage point make him a valuable new voice in cinema.
Most People Die On Sundays premiered in the ACID section at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival.
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Antonia ZegersCannesCannes 2024Iair SaidJuliana GattasMost People Die On SundaysRita Cortese

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