“It’s very much a story about the power of friendship”: Claire Dix on Sunlight
Sunlight is the Dublin-set feature debut from Claire Dix, which takes us through a day in the life of a friendship between recovering addict Leon (Barry Ward) and longtime friend and sponsor Iver (Liam Carney), who is suffering the debilitating effects of motor neurone disease. This isn’t just any day, however, as Leon walks in on Iver ready to end things with the help of doctor Maria (Maureen Beattie). Leon makes it his mission to remind his friend of all the fun things in life, from drinking pints of Guinness to horse-riding, to change his mind about taking his own.
A bleach-haired, physically tough Ward brings a kinetic energy to Leon, whose boyish immaturity belies a troubled past, but is also contagiously charming, with something of Ewan McGregor’s Renton in Trainspotting about him; meanwhile, the chemistry between Ward and Carney brings both emotional depth and witty banter. Told in an off-beat, irreverent tone, the film tackles big questions – such as our right to die – with a lightness of touch that also captures the joy to be found in friendship and moments shared. Playfully striking images, such as the Viking-clad cast riding through town on horseback, punctuate what could otherwise be a bleak backdrop of deprivation.
The Upcoming chatted to director Claire Dix, who spoke about her desire to tackle the topic of the right to die through cinematic storytelling and finding her perfect Leon in Ward. We also discussed how Sunlight incorporates social commentary around societal deprivation. Despite the film’s weighty themes, Dix hopes to leave audiences with an uplifting message about cherishing life and building enduring relationships. She reflected on the positive reception it has received at festivals, and also teased her next project.
Sunlight is released in select cinemas on 16th June 2023. Read our review here.
Watch the trailer for Sunlight here: