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On A Clear Day

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On a Clear Day is directed by newcomer Gaby Dellal, from a first script by Alex Rose. It stars Peter Mullan as Frank, a newly unemployed worker from the shipbuilding industry in Glasgow. With nothing to do, he seizes on the idea of swimming the English channel. His mates rally round, but he conceals the endeavour from his wife Joan (Brenda Blethyn) and his estranged son Rob (Jamie Sives). While completing the task Frank is forced to confront the long-ignored tragedy of his other son’s death by drowning twenty-five years earlier.

The film shows great promise for Dellal’s future as a director. She has a talent for nuanced montages that evoke emotion via visual imagery. The beginning of the film is particularly strong, and indicates considered and thoughtful editing. Mullan, as ever, dominates the screen with his simple and charismatic performance of a man who experiences an emotional awakening. The piece could easily devolve into sentimentality, but thankfully it’s pulled back just at the right moments, and there is plenty of humour and laughs in the story. Mullen is helped by a stellar cast and fine performances all around, from actors such as Irishman Sean McGinley, Benedict Wong, Billy Boyd and Ron Cook.

Although serious issues are explored there is a strong feel-good element in this film, which is designed to uplift you by the end. My only criticism is that the film is a little too tidy: all the characters have obstacles that they overcome because of Frank’s inspiring action. Everyone develops and changes his or her life for the better; I think even Mad Bob the crazy skipper has a minor epiphany. However, it’s a small quibble.

I suspect this will be a popular film when it is released–and deservedly so.

This film was seen in Ireland at the Galway Film Fleadh.

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About Maura McHugh

  • Nice review. I’m gonna have to watch this now.