This feature from actor-director John Connors won the audience award at this year’s Dublin film festival, and it’s a generous, big-hearted, honest tribute to the McCann family from Greystones, County Wicklow, who endured a public heartbreak. In 2018, daughter Jade had become a beauty influencer on Instagram; her profile assumed a new dimension when she started documenting the way her dad, Anthony, a former boxer, was dealing with his prostate cancer.
Things became even more complex when Jade was diagnosed with sarcoma, and she began talking in the same artless way about that. Connors intersperses his own black-and-white footage of Jade and Anthony (and her mum, Kim, and brother, Eoin) with Jade’s own Instagram videos, which are shot portrait-style, often in her car, with text and wacky emojis.
We can see how the Panglossian self-promotional rhetoric of social media, with its habitual filtering and airbrushing, is coming into contact with something darker and more unmanageable. Often, Connors will include updates about the way Jade’s follower count is fluctuating – perhaps because the public was unsure how to take what she was telling them.
It’s a touching film, precisely because it has a rough-and-ready, homemade quality. Jade is no more of a narcissist than anyone else on social media, and there is a heartrending openness about what she is trying to do. If there is a fault in this film, it is that it does not analyse clearly enough what it means to go through such a tough experience in the real time of social media. Specifically, it could have been more candid about what type of trolling Jade had to withstand – that was clearly an issue – and how she reacted to what appear to have been shifts in public opinion. But there is something affecting in the simplicity of this film, which has a sadness and sweetness.
• Endless Sunshine on a Cloudy Day is available to stream on Vimeo.
Source: The Guardian