Days of the Bagnold Summer
6th October 2019 12.45pm at Curzon Mayfair
7th October 2019 6.15pm at Prince Charles Cinema
Living a suburban life in a broken home with his mum, Daniel (Earl Cave) wishes to escape from it all in the only way a teenager can – through his headphones. The summer holidays are here, but Daniel’s summer takes a turn for the worse when his long-awaited trip to see his father in Florida is cancelled and he is left in the company of his shy but loving mother Sue (Monica Dolan) for a whole six weeks. Struggling to keep her relationship with her son taped together, Sue endeavours to build new foundations with her son, whilst at the same time coming out of her own shell for the first time since her divorce eight years ago.
This movie, adapted from Joff Winterhart’s novel of the same name, is brought to us by Simon Bird and oozes all of the classic tenets of a British drama, from fish and chips on the beach to the genuinely laugh-out-loud moments of dry humour that may make our American cousins raise an eyebrow. The script is well written by Bird, and it is evident he has placed his own artistic touch on the film. Some characters are a little one-dimensional, with little visible development until we approach the third act, but that by no means spoils the final product.
Cave and Dolan have a fantastic onscreen mother/son relationship, whether they are at each other’s throats or slowly building a heartfelt companionship after so many verbal battles. Cave proves he is a newcomer to be reckoned with, playing the clichéd rock-loving, mood-swinging teenager to hilarious but at times touching effect. Dolan is a force of nature, putting in a stellar performance as Daniel’s timid mother Sue – it is a real success to convincingly portray a character so introverted and yet so lovable and memorable. Rob Brydon is thrown into the mix as Daniel’s teacher and the pursuer of his mother, ensuring awkward laughs aplenty as he and Dolan enjoy each other’s company over dinner.
The beauty of Days of the Bagnold Summer is that it pays special attention to the damages both a divorce and a combative home life inflict on the psyche of all family members. Everyone deals with grief, pain and suffering in their own way, and we are all different in our nature, even if we come from the same blood. But if we embrace each other for what we are, then ultimately we can get along just fine in the modern world. You just have to try.
There is a suspicion that, as much as he may want to distance himself from it, Bird’s adapted screenplay has an Inbetweeners feel to it, with its suburban setting and indie songs galore. That is, of course, no insult to the picture. On the contrary, it makes Days of the Bagnold Summer even more charming to watch and ultimately allows the ending to explain itself in a very satisfying, cyclical manner. All in all, not a bad start for Simon Bird as a director.
Days of the Bagnold Summer does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2019 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch a clip from Days of the Bagnold Summer here: