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HomeUncategorizedWith ‘Positive Sorrow,’ Daniel Levy Shifts From Chuckles to Sobs

With ‘Positive Sorrow,’ Daniel Levy Shifts From Chuckles to Sobs

“Positive Sorrow” might have been an alternative title for “Schitt’s Creek,” the multi-Emmy-winning comedy Daniel Levy conceived and starred in with his father, Eugene. However, unlike that series, which derived humor from the dynamics of a family in financial crisis, Levy’s most recent venture, a drama, delves into how bereavement impacts a tight-knit group of friends in their late 30s.

The movie, available for streaming on Netflix, represents the younger Levy’s first foray into directing (he also penned the film, took on a leading role, and served as a producer). Set in London, it tracks Levy’s character as he embarks on a trip to Paris with his closest friends (Ruth Negga and Himesh Patel) following the recent passings of his mother and husband (Luke Evans). “Positive Sorrow” is the initial release in a deal he made with Netflix.

During a video call last month, Levy, 40, linked the film’s origins to the passing of his grandmother during the pandemic, a period that engulfed him in “collective grief.”

“I hadn’t encountered significant loss in my life,” he said. “My grandfather had passed away about a decade earlier, but, undergoing bereavement as an adult, I found myself very perplexed about what I was experiencing. My biggest fear was that I wasn’t grieving correctly somehow. That confusion compelled me to start documenting my emotions, and I discovered that there was an intriguing story in the exploration of attempting to comprehend the meaning of grief.”

​​The following are modified excerpts from our dialogue.

How did you decide to incorporate an additional layer of grief to this character who has already suffered the loss of his mother?

Part of that was simply trying to find a captivating thread for the purpose of recounting an engaging tale. I knew, coming from “Schitt’s Creek,” that I wanted to narrate a story about companionship. As an individual who has been unattached for quite some time, your friends become the significant loves of your life, so I knew from the outset that I wanted the friendships to be the main focus.

Was it a different experience to write about friends rather than family?

I had to draw from a different well. A lot of these connections are borne from my own experiences. I reflect on my 30s as one of the pivotal decades in my friendships. I believe that as we grow older, our friendships become more complex. In many movies, friends play a supporting role, cheering on the main characters as they journey in search of love. Reversing that expectation and portraying the grand love story as one of friendship was significant for me, as that’s the life I’m presently leading.

Why did you opt to situate the narrative overseas, in London?

I appreciate the notion of someone who resides in a place they call home, but it’s not their place of origin. I knew that I wanted the character to feel like a fish out of water and construct a world around him that felt potentially isolating. When you reside in a place that is not your homeland, the relationships you form are incredibly important. I wanted there to be a lengthy history for him, and I loved the concept that he came for school and chose to remain; it felt like the rich backstory of a character who I think is rather evasive.

I resided there for a considerable period, in my early 20s. I was recovering from a bizarre breakup and had the chance to traverse England in the spirit of “Eat, Pray, Love.” The experience was very character-shaping, and when you have those truly formative moments in a place, you always harbor the desire to return. Moreover, it’s a picturesque setting for a movie.

Why did you make the decision to create a drama?

I wanted to write something for myself and desired to undertake something slightly more emotional, as a test. I think my aspirations as an actor led me, as a writer, in the direction of exploring something more dramatic. We produced 80 episodes of a comedy, and as an actor, you yearn to try something new. I am not fond of the fact that actors get typecast once they achieve success in a particular realm. I would greatly appreciate more opportunities of this kind coming my way, and, to be candid, I had to compose it for myself, you know? I craved the work and I sought the challenge.

When did you appoint yourself as director?

As soon as I completed the script. By the time I wrote the final page, I possessed such a distinct vision for it that I knew I had to direct it because I realized that if anyone else took on the role of director, I would be hovering around them like an exceedingly irritating mosquito. Thus, it was a practical decision, and I had also directed numerous episodes of my television show and felt prepared. I hesitate to say straightforward, because it wasn’t, but it felt natural.

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