Cannes 2024 review: Most People Die On Sundays (Iair Said)

Most People Die On Sundays is a testament to Said’s ever-expanding list of talents.”

Already in his 30s, life hasn’t been treating David well. As if dealing with weight issues, his homosexuality, and a relationship that has hit rock bottom wasn’t enough, David has to return to his native Argentina for the funeral of his uncle, meaning he has to overcome his debilitating fear of flying. Moving in with a mother who has been living alone since her husband (and David’s father) went into a coma, David is forced to reconnect with his family and their Jewish traditions. Driving lessons, a quest for the cheapest healthcare, and sexual encounters with whomever will give him the time of day feed into his reluctance to visit his father in hospital. Until a fateful accident sends him there himself.

A jack-of-all-trades (he was the casting director on J.A. Bayona’s Society of the Snow, for instance) but most prolific as an actor, Argentinian Iair Said has now added directing a feature film to his resumé. Most People Die On Sundays, written by and starring Said as well, is a look at mental health and anxiety as well as grappling with one’s sexuality within a traditional community. It chugs along with few ripples until you connect the dots and realize this is a sad portrait of a man who may or may not in some ways resemble Said himself. Featuring a cast that includes (but underutilizes) Antonia Zegers (El Conde), this small scale neo-realist film is seemingly uneventful and devoid of drama, but the devil is in its subtle details.

The crux of David’s character arc is in his relationship with a father we do not see, and who he himself is also not willing to see. As we enter the story David has been living abroad for a number of years, and as the film trickles out the details this seems to have been a flight. A bit of his dad’s aftershave sprayed on a pillow making him get out of bed is one example of hints given throughout. Most People Die On Sundays deliberately underplays these moments, but the throughline is there: at the heart of David’s anxieties lies a strained relationship with his father, whose presence still hangs over him like a shadow even if dad is comatose, and this is likely a result of David’s homosexuality and his dad’s conservative Jewish background. That the film leaves this somewhat ambiguous and open for interpretation is a credit to Said’s writing and direction.

The writing and direction are what the film mostly has to lean on, because a visual director Said is not. His editing choices are apt but rather basic, and the compositional work is uninspired, although that is to be expected given the genre. The boon of this is that the film will play well on the small screen. This is likely where most audiences will see it, as it seems destined to only hit the big screen on the festival circuit and in Said’s home country of Argentina. But those who do see this unassuming but finely crafted little film will undoubtedly be surprised by its clever approach to a delicate subject, and Most People Die On Sundays is a testament to Said’s ever-expanding list of talents.