Movie Review: Days of the Bagnold Summer
The prospect of what to do with the summer holidays always used to scare me as a kid. Nowadays I just drink, watch movies and read in-between spats of lying in, listening to music and writing. Back when I wasn’t swanning around, aimlessly gawping at film after film, I was bored stiff. The cool drizzle of the British summer, coupled with a bleak financial situation meant I didn’t really do all that much. Taking this nightmare of not knowing what to do with such a long span of free time, Days of the Bagnold Summer dives into what would happen if a son and mother duo were forced to spend an unexpected summer together, after a sudden holiday cancellation.
Simon Bird of The Inbetweeners fame directs us through a light-hearted British romp that takes on little in the way of heavy-hitting subject matters. Whilst I headed into this expecting some typically glum, predictable independent drama direction, it was a truly pleasant surprise to see that Bird’s direction is marvellous. Light, colourful, well-choreographed and focusing in on a brilliant script from Lisa Owen makes for a resoundingly comfortable film. There’s no static coming from the leading duo, who share a great deal of chemistry. A believable mother and son bond is crafted through excellent leading performances and great shot framing.
With a whole host of familiar faces littering the cast, the likes of Rob Brydon, Tasmin Greig and Alice Lowe make for a great foundation of supporting performances. Monica Dolan and Earl Cave lead the way as Sue and Daniel, and hopefully this is the launchpad for two great careers. They’re certainly not challenged with anything incredibly difficult, but it’s how they dedicate themselves to these mundane lives that impresses me most. Inexplicable tangents into rather obvious conclusions do rear their heads from time to time, but for the most part, Days of the Bagnold Summer is an endearing piece.
Most of the charm comes from the nothingness that surrounds Sue and Daniel. There isn’t a grand moment or big event that ever happens to them. We see them shop for shoes, go to the beach and deal with the various strains placed upon them that crop up out of random. Bird’s direction acknowledges tropes and cliché but never commits to them. He raises the point of romance, friendships breaking down and nuclear family disruption without ever delving into predictable moments.
A heart-warming dissection of a son and his mother, at odds in a culture clash, Days of the Bagnold Summer is the light-hearted entertainment we all need right now. It’s a lovely film, charming in all the right places and not too taxing on the mind. An exceptional debut from Bird that brings together some astonishing lead performances alongside direction that will linger on the mind long after the credits roll. Proving you can articulate a piece of media in front of the camera is one thing, but to adapt that experience to behind the camera is a different playing field entirely. Making the leap is, frankly, something very few can do, but Bird provides ample material that suggests a bright future for his directing work.