Director: John Connors
Writers: John Connors, Tiernan Williams
Stars: Jade McCann, Anthony McCann, Kim McCann, Eoin McCann
Synopsis: Endless Sunshine on a Cloudy Day tells the story of the McCanns, an Irish family battling to stay together despite the odds. The film examines life and mortality while celebrating our ability to find meaning in the darkest of times. This is a story about the power of the human spirit.
This is not a big-budget film of any sorts. This is not a documentary that is over-produced or was planned for years. This is of a moment in time for a family and the raw filmmaking of that shows it, and I thank the family for doing this. It is clear that this is a story that they wanted to tell and share with the world, and that should always be the priority when watching a film. To see that passion and reason for putting the film out there.
This is a story that needs a captivating person through it to keep the audience emotionally invested and to cheer on, and Jade certainly is that person. When she was alive, Jade had all the wonderful aspects that people look for in an online personality. She felt real, like a friend we could relate to and feel like we could chat to. She was honest, and made sure that her audience could see the struggles that she went through and know that she wasn’t going through this experience of cancer alone.
I would have liked to have seen more on Anthony and his journey, as it felt very personal to Jade and this portion of her life. When we did see him though, it was nice to see different aspects of the family dynamic. It was clear that they loved each other and were supportive, but one moment stood out to me in the film where it was announced that he was cleared of his diagnosis for some time. Jade opened up to a friend about how she was happy he recovered, but how strange it was that she was now feeling like she was struggling alone. Having this open conversation on how people feel in a situation, particularly when dealing with an illness such as cancer, is so important and why it is easy to connect with her and the rest of the family.
The story does not just talk about the journey of fighting cancer, but also what it is like being an online influencer. Jade didn’t have the biggest following, but it was clear that she cared about the people who did support her. It was great to see her talk about being honest with her audience, even with refusing to take promotional offers where she would be selling products she didn’t believe in to her followers. This not only gave an insight to her beliefs, but what the role of an online influencer is in a positive light.
As I said at the start of the film, the filmmaking is simple. I am not fully sure if some of the techniques, such as the black-and-white cinematography works throughout, but there are some sequences that work really well. The editing can feel choppy at times, unable to decide what the focus of the story is or where it is going. There was a following count that showed throughout, whenever Jade gained or lost followers. This felt really strange to me, as they never helped to communicate a reason for it or why she was gaining or losing in that moment.
The pacing also felt off throughout the documentary, with it losing steam about halfway through the film. There seemed to be so much footage taken at the start of the documentary, and a lot of it felt unnecessary and slowed down the journey. The reverse happens at the end, where a lot of the story is told purely by text and is rushed through in the space of 5-10 minutes. I wanted to see more of Jade near the end of the journey, and the impact it had throughout and not just at the start.
Whilst the film could have been tighter, I cannot deny the love and passion that went into telling this story. I thank the family and filmmakers who brought this out and were open in sharing their story, just like Jade was throughout her journey online. Conversations about cancer treatment and the fear of the end of a short life needs to happen more, because it is sadly a thing that happens and people need to know that they do not need to suffer alone.