On a Clear Day Movie Review

Subscribe To:
Over here in America, it seems we just cannot get enough of the gentle shenanigans of average, everyday Brits. If they are slightly older and perhaps finding themselves financially strapped and driven to eyebrow-raising lengths by the hard times, well, so much the better. Into this proud lineage comes On a Clear Day a charming, if slight, bit of fluff from across the pond that has nothing whatsoever to do with the similarly-titled Barbra Streisand musical from the '70s.Peter Mullan plays Frank, a quiet, middle-aged Scot who is left floundering when he is laid off from his shipbuilding job. He embarks on a mission, seemingly on a lark, to swim the English Channel in an effort to give himself purpose and shed personal demons that have plagued him for years. Admittedly, this is quite thin, plotwise, but if we learned anything but a new dance routine from The Full Monty, it's that working-class British fellows made redundant can be remarkably entertaining in keeping themselves occupied.Though he staunchly refuses to tell his family anything about his intentions, Frank has a small clique of friends - former coworkers, mostly - serving as his motley training crew, headed by a put-upon Chinese fish-and-chips vendor (Benedict Wong) and given hyper energy by the cheerfully hapless Danny (Billy Boyd). They are caught up in Frank's determination to change his life, and predictably inspired to do something new with their own, and it is remarkably sweet and uplifting in a straightforward and non-saccharine way, a rarity these days.First-time feature director Gaby Dellal has crafted a dutifully small and endearing bit of fluff, only faltering briefly with some easily-forgiven flaws. She does fall victim to a hallmark of young directors - the need to be unnecessarily flashy - with her shooting of action via its reflection in a small domed mirror or her slow pans of an ordinary boat. Also, the film is not adept at offering fleshed-out logic. Why this unassuming Scottish man takes on a personal mission to swim the Channel, or what he hopes it will accomplish - and what it does ultimately accomplish - is left unaddressed and open to interpretation. But if you accept the pull of those crazy urges we get from time to time - the desire to do something stupid, and hard, and to revel in a feeling of true accomplishment - then that is probably sufficient in the way of movie logic.What gives the film layers and makes it so watchable is the extremely capable acting. Mullan (My Name is Joe, Young Adam) is an immensely likeable actor, and his Frank is an amiable and capable fellow, but he can also be profoundly frustrating. Being taciturn is one thing, but he often seems to outright ignore his wife (the adorably floopy Brenda Blethyn). And he is deeply scarred by the death of his son nearly 25 years ago, but he's so distant from his surviving son that it borders on rude. This persistent haze that surrounds poor Frank, and mires him into such melancholic inaction, is what prevents On a Clear Day from being a straight-up comedy. All of the characters are witty and quirky (though not aggressively so) and have their moments of amusing antics, but they are also each battling a very real sadness, and the film does well in striking a balance between the two.There is little about On a Clear Day that is especially profound or innovative, to be sure. The most effusive praise it will likely garner is that it is genuinely cute and sweet without becoming twee or simplistic. That said, there is certainly a place - and a market - for films like these. I certainly know what I'll be telling my Auntie to see the next time she tells me they don't make "nice movies" anymore.Nope, can't see forever.

Cast & Crew

Director : Gaby Dellal

Subscribe To:


On a Clear Day Rating

" Good "

Rating: PG-13, 2006


More Peter Mullan

Hercules Movie Review

Far more entertaining than it has any right to be, this is a big, messy blockbuster retelling of the Greek myth that thankfully has a...

Hercules Trailer

Following his deadly ordeal of being put through the Twelve Labours by his father Zeus and his people, all Hercules wants from life is to...

Hercules - Trailer Trailer

Hercules is a bitter and haunted demi-god filled with resentment for the people and the gods (including his father Zeus) who put him through the...

'Top Of The Lake': First Reviews & Elisabeth Moss On Shooting Nude Scenes Post-Peggy [Trailer]

Top of the Lake has debuted on British TV this weekend, establishing Mad Men actress Elisabeth Moss as a truly fine television actress in her...


The Liability Movie Review

Blackly comical writing and direction add a playful slant to what could have been a typically over-serious British crime thriller. And there's also a coming-of-age...

The Liability Trailer

Adam is just 19-years-old but, after managing to prang his mother's mobster boyfriend's car, is coerced into performing a driving job for jaded hitman Roy...

Welcome to the Punch Movie Review

After the tiny drama Shifty, British filmmaker Creevy turns to both Hong Kong and Hollywood for inspiration, creating an unusually glossy, explosive London cop thriller....

Welcome To The Punch Trailer

Max Lewinsky is a determined police detective who remains bitter about never managing to find and arrest the elusive criminal that is Jacob Sternwood. However,...