It’s hard to think that “Days Of The Bagnold Summer” is based on a graphic novel, but it is, the graphic novel written by Joff Winterhart.
Translating that graphic novel to the silver screen fell to husband and wife duo Simon Bird, best known as Will MacKenzie from “The Inbetweeners” and Lisa Owens in her first screenplay.
Together with cinematographer Simon Tindall (“Northern Soul”, “The Festival”), Bird brings us a quintessentially British movie. It’s all subtle, nuanced, wonderfully shot but really quite slow, although this does work with the script, it means you wait between laughs.
For leading man Daniel Bagnold, Bird went for Earl Cave (“The End Of The F***ing World (TV)”, “Old Boys”), son of Australian singer Nick Cave, with mum, Sue, played by Monica Dolan (“God’s Own Country”, “W1A (TV)”).
Daniel is supposed to be going to Florida to spend the six-week summer holidays with his father, but that is quickly kyboshed as his father’s new squeeze is about to have a child.
This leaves Daniel, a boy who wears Metallica t-shirts, has long hair and always wears black, having to spend the summer with his mum, who is a librarian.
Mother and son are very similar; both are introverted, both don’t go out much or have a large group of friends, but they are also diametrically opposed, but in less ways then they’d like to think.
Sue is asked out by Daniel’s history teacher, played by Rob Brydon (“Gavin & Stacey (TV)”, “Holmes & Watson”), who, it transpires, is doing his best to date all of the single mums in the school.
Daniel wants to join a band and finds one looking for a singer but he is too shy to try out. When his best friend Ky, Elliot Speller-Gillott (“Uncle (TV)”, “Holby City (TV)”), tries to force him into it, Daniel falls out with him and the pair don’t speak.
As Sue does her best to entertain Daniel during the holidays, it only seems to push him further away, Daniel turning into ‘Kevin the teenager’ from Harry Enfield on more than one occasion.
Despite each other, or perhaps because of each other, the pair begin to, finally, grow into themselves. Daniel becomes the singer of a band, sure, the rest of the band might be half his age, but still. Sue meanwhile begins going out herself, attending yoga classes, moving forward slowly.
“Days Of The Bagnold Summer” is a sweet British film. Bird directs in a way which slows the whole film down. He gives everything plenty of time to breathe, shots are long and wide, our focal points wandering in and out of shot.
The soundtrack, from Belle & Sebastian, only adds to the light and airy feel of the movie, making the whole thing feel like a comfy pair of slippers.
This won’t light everyone’s fire, but “Days Of The Bagnold Summer” is a lovely debut from writer Owens and a great feature directorial debut from Bird. I’ve no doubt we’ll be seeing more from both.
8th June 2020
THE QUICK SELL
A teenager spends his summer listening to heavy metal music and trying to get along with his librarian mom.