Director – Simon Bird – 2019 – UK – Cert. 12 – 86m
Currently streaming on VoD
Librarian Sue Bagnold’s (Monica Dolan) husband Bob left her for another woman several years ago. Her teenage son Daniel (Earl Cave) is supposed to be going over to Florida to visit his dad this summer and meet his dad’s new baby, but then the phone call comes through that it’ll have to happen at a later time. This means Daniel will instead have to spend summer at home with his mum. He was looking forward to Florida, so he’s not too happy about this new development.
What follows is a very English deadpan comedy of manners. It’s all very charming at at times mildly amusing, likeable in an unchallenging fashion. The script gives Dolan and Cave great scope to milk the mother-son relationship for all it’s worth. She does a nice line in that English national female tendency to be very prim and proper as a compensation for being painstakingly shy. He is the archetypal Metallica T-shirt and black clad, grumpy teenager.
One day she tells him to do his CV in the morning and pass it round places of potential employment in the afternoon to get himself a Summer job, which he does – but wearing the same clothes and wondering why she complains that that would probably undermine his efforts. She meanwhile is accosted at work by Douglas (Rob Bryden) a.k.a. Daniel’s history teacher Mr. Porter and after a few false starts goes out on a date with him. That doesn’t really go anywhere beyond her embarrassing avoidance of snogging towards the end of their taxi ride to hers.
Sue’s home hairdresser sister Carol (Alice Lowe) eggs Sue on then wants to know all the details, while the otherworldly mum (Tamsin Greig) of Daniel’s best mate Ky (Elliot Speller-Gillott) can never resist offering lots of advice. Daniel meanwhile plans to form a metal band called Skull Slayer.
The tale plays out in recognisable if anonymous, squeaky clean English suburbia with the occasional outing to the seaside complete with out of place palm trees and concrete bridge. If the film is never boring, it doesn’t grip you so much as vaguely wash over you. As a portrait of a gawky teenager, it’s fine but nothing special. A pleasant enough way to while away an hour and a half of your time, but no more than that.
Days Of The Bagnold Summer is out on VoD in the UK on Monday, June 8th. Here’s the trailer: