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After decades of laboring as a Glasgow shipbuilder, Frank Redmond, a no-nonsense 55-year-old working-class man, suddenly finds himself laid off. For the first time in his life, he is without a job or a sense of direction, and he's too proud to ask for guidance. His best mates - rascally Danny, timid Norman and cynical Eddie - are there for him, but Frank still feels desperately alone. An offhand remark from Danny inspires Frank to challenge himself. Already contemplating the state of his relationships with loving wife Joan and all-but-estranged son Rob, Frank is determined to shore up his own self-confidence. He will attempt the near impossible - swimming the English Channel. As Frank plunges headlong into his new daily life, his astonished friends are swept along with him. Prodded by stalwart fish-and-chips shop owner Chan, the men support Frank, train him - and keep their goal secret from his wife and son. Frank is unable to confide in those closest to him, but as the big day and ... Written by
ON A CLEAR DAY is a wee Scottish film that is full to overflowing with heart and fine performances. Writer Alex Rose and Director Gaby Dellal have managed to explore the psyches of the ordinary folk who face the crises of unemployment, of strained family relations and the fear of loss of pride in one's self and have created not only a sympathetic story with a message, but have also delivered their story with humor and a glint of the eye that makes the whole thing work - very well indeed.
Frank (Peter Mullen) watches as the last ship he will ever have worked on is launched as his wife Joan (Brenda Blethyn) and his son Rob (Jamie Sives), daughter in law Angela (Johdi May), and grandson twins celebrate the launching. We soon learn that Frank is now jobless, that there is friction with his son Rob (who had been a twin but the other twin died at age 7) who doesn't have a traditional job but instead is a stay at home Dad. Money is tight and Joan secretly is training to be a bus driver. Franks cronies Eddie (Sean McGinley), Danny (Billy Boyd), and Norman (Ron Cook) see Frank slipping into depression. Frank spends his time swimming at the public swimming pool and while there he sees three young physically challenged boys trying and by will power succeeding to swim. Frank decides he needs to prove himself to his friends, family and himself and decides to swim the English Channel. He enlists his buddy Chan (Benedict Wong) and eventually his cronies and they prepare for the challenging swim. The manner in which this drive influences his marriage, his relationship with his son and his perception of himself is the driver for the very tender ending.
The cast is first class all the way, acting with that inimitable UK fashion of finding reality in the simplest of characters. The story is a joy to watch for its understated manner and for the glowing theme of the film. Recommended for all audiences. Grady Harp, July 06
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