Sunlight gives life to an unlikely but incredibly fond friendship shared between Leon, a former addict, played by Barry Ward, and Iver, a terminally ill man, played by Liam Carney, who supported Leon out of his addiction and whom he now cares for in return. As we meet them, both Leon and Iver are weighing up the value of a life and what it means to see the sun rise on another day, in their own distinct terms; one is running wild, lurching unsteadily towards a series of second chances, while the other is on his last legs, yearning for a dignified, final rest.
Directed by Claire Dix and written by Ailbhe Keogan, this debut feature spans a single day, which Iver has decided will be his last. Reluctant, pre-empting his personal heartbreak, Leon swallows his own interests and invests in his best friend’s dwindling company, creating a whistle-stop tour of near-sacred community settings – much of which consists of Leon driving wheelchair over uneven surface like a man who knows that there’s precious little as precious as time.
“[There’s] nothing like heat in your bones and the sun in your face”, an aphorism Iver lends from his ex-wife Terry, is a sentiment that crops up time and time again. The veracity and value of this statement seems to be the film’s central debate, complicated by its delivery from a man determined not to see another sunrise.
Though the pacing feels patchy in places, the depth of connection between Leon and Iver carries this film from beginning to end, fortified by Maureen Beattie’s performance as Maria, who has travelled to Dublin to facilitate Iver dying with dignity. Love and the belief in its transcendent power gifts this rag-tag trio a unifying force that, alongside their incessant high jinks and moments of great humour, sees their story to reach past its premise and connect with a wide range of viewers, at every walk, talk and stage of life.
Words: Emer Tyrrell
Director: Claire Dix
Talent: Barry Ward, Liam Carney, Maureen Beattie
Release Date: June 16