On a Clear Day is directed by Gaby Dellal and written by Alex Rose. It stars Peter Mullan, Brenda Blethyn, Jamie Sives, Benedict Wong, Billy Boyd, Sean McGinley, Ron Cook and Jodhi May. Music is scored by Stephen Warbeck and photography by David Johnson. Locations used for the shoot were Glasgow, Isle of Man and Dover.
Emotionally shot after being made redundant from his employment at the ship yard, Frank (Mullan) searches desperately for some semblance of hope in his life. Then one day he finds a challenge, a test of endurance to maybe exorcise the demons that haunt his family: Frank aims to swim the English Channel.
Following in the wake of great British comedy/dramas such as Billy Elliot, The Full Monty and Brassed Off, On a Clear Day is a perky, yet tender, human interest story. Story may follow a familiar course as regards a protagonist striving against odds for some sort of meaning, redemption, but it's how this particular protagonists actions affect those around him that opens this up as a more fulfilling story. Frank, his wife Joan (Blethyn) and son Rob (Sives) have had a terrible event in their lives, thus the relationship between father and son is desperately strained. Into the mix comes Frank's recent unemployment and the family is in danger of complete implosion, especially Frank who is extremely low on self esteem.
Then there are the friends in Frank's life, Eddie (McGinley), Danny (Boyd) and Norman (Cook), and a potential friendship in the making with Chinese Take Away owner Chan (Wong). All men low on confidence, all about to become involved in Frank's goal, his attempt to swim the channel becoming a beacon of hope for all of them. It's this collective feeling of the underdog against life's troubles that gives the film its heart beat; if the film is a heart warmer? Then you will have to watch to find out. It's also very funny, even if much of the comedy is very "laddish", with character names such as Merv the Perv and Mad Bob, it's evident that some of the humour is colourful. While it should be noted that the Scottish accents are likely to be a problem for non residents of the UK and Ireland.
Smoothly directed by Dellal and impeccably acted by the cast, this is very much a winner across the board. A film fit to sit alongside those British films mentioned earlier. 8/10
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