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|Index||34 reviews in total|
I saw this movie at Sundance, and it was brilliant. Beautiful shots,
wonderful acting and such a moving story! It made me cry, it made me
laugh (with Billy Boyd as much of the comic relief!), it made me want
to see it again! Gaby Dellal's direction was spot on, and the emotions
from each of the characters was so true, that I wanted to cheer Frank
(Peter Mullen) on while swimming the English Channel and console him
when he felt like he couldn't do anything.
The only thing that I had an "issue" with, was that at a few moments, the Scottish accent was so thick that I missed what was said. :P Oops!!! Otherwise, I hope this gets picked up and distributed, and I will DEFINITELY buy the DVD.
I had the opportunity to see "On a Clear Day" last night, Jan. 21, 2004
at Abravanel Hall as part of the opening of the Sundance Film Festival.
Robert Redford introduced Gaby Dellal, a first-time director. She spoke
about the film and creating it and then introduced the screenplay
writer, some of the crew and the cast. They were nicely received by
everyone - especially Billy Boyd.
The film itself is fairly good, a bit uneven, slow in the beginning. Much of that may be because the sound system was a little "echoey" and I'm not up on my Scottish / northern English dialects. After the first 45 minutes or so, once I could figure out who everyone was and what their issues were, the film really took off for me. I loved the last half, the resolutions and the cementing of friendships.
I've already decided to rent it when it comes out on DVD so that I can watch it with closed captions now that I have an idea of the plot line. I would recommend this to those who love a good story, this is not an action/adventure! I would imagine those who live in the areas shown in the film will especially love it. Peter Mulan was fabulous, but I loved and related to Brenda Blethan from the opening scene. Billy was the same happy-go-lucky type of character he played as Pippin in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, and was the humorous leavening that helped make the film enjoyable. The story was one many will easily relate to.
Independent Films are often ignored, and I would encourage you to support the efforts films like this one represents. It's often an important resource and insight into our communities and cultures that the world needs. Try them, you will enjoy them!
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
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
This movie has strengths and weaknesses. Some of the strengths are its
attempt to tell a 'real' story, without recourse to shtick, cliché, or
pop-star trickery so common on TV and in movies these days. It seems
obvious that the writer and director had visions of something deep,
meaningful, as well as entertaining. Another strength is the reliance
on the humans, and their real-world behaviors, fears, and hopes (etc.)
for the 'current' flow of the movie. The camera lingers, the dialogue
is written to enlighten us about the emotions (pleasant as well as
despairing) of the characters. It may be said this is a character
driven movie, perhaps? And, all of the cast do a commendable job of
providing us with the characters' humanity and depth.
Some of the weaknesses, however, are how all of the individual components of the writer and director's vision are executed. Many of the threads of the story simply go nowhere--- not that we necessarily need a big plot-ish conclusion to everything. But we do need some sense, anyway, of what various expositions mean. Sure, we could accept a bit of non-convention, and even artiness, but some of the elements of this story never were stitched together with any other parts of the movie. Worse, those orphaned parts were never really stitched up as themselves--- i.e., they never really completed themselves, nor made any real sense in and of themselves. Without discussing plot details, let me breezily mention the parts with Chan, the Chinese chippy guy, for example. These had neither a start, nor a finish--- we simply saw one brief middle, as it were.
Overall, this is a pleasant movie--- but it isn't a great one. I looked up the director and the writer online, and didn't find much. If they are young, or young-ish, this effort might bode well. That is, this movie resembled a good student-like product from young and promising film makers. Young, in their careers anyway, regardless of their actual calendar year age, but very talented. People to watch in the future.
'On A Clear Day' made me think of quilt makers. Imagine a master-to-be quilt maker; a quilt making artist whose work will be celebrated in the UK and America, and featured on PBS and BBC documentaries and featured in museums, etc. And then imagine this future master's last 'student' project, when she was 17 years old or so, before the magic clicked and she got great. This student work shows genius and promise, both undelivered as of now. That's what 'Clear Day' is like--- a quilt whose individual pieces are great, showing bright and future success, but not put together very well, showing immaturity and a student just beginning to blossom. Oh, the cast was great, and they obviously did everything they were asked to do, and they did it very well. The ill-fitting chunks weren't their fault--- they were just an artifact of the awkward and 'green' directorial efforts.
Go see it anyway--- support the growth of these folks! I gave this an encouraging 8 out of 10.
I just saw this movie a few hours ago. I'm a university student in Utah and went up to the Sundance Film Festival in Park City. My friends and I thought that On a Clear Day sounded good so we stood in line and got in. It was a great movie. Peter Mullan captures his character (Frank) perfectly. He leaves you cheering for the underdog and hoping for the impossible. Billy Boyd is, as usual, hilarious and very believable in his role as Frank's friend and former co-worker. Gabby Dellal's direction was very impressive. Her use of angles gave the audience a clear perception and her use of time and flashbacks was also brilliantly used. Overall, the film was well worth the ten bucks, hour drive and long line. Plus, it's Sundance, how can you go wrong? I hope it does well at the Festival and also hope that many more people will have the opportunity to see it.
I saw this at Sundance Sunday night (which was 3 days after opening night), and unfortunately none of the actors or the director could make it. That was disappointing, but nevertheless, the film was an enjoyable story of relationships being mended and of people adding meaning to their lives when they go through trials. I enjoyed the performances of all of the lead actors (and the supporting actors), particularly Brenda Blethyn. Perhaps it was because I saw this is a smaller multi-plex type theater (instead of Abravanel) that I didn't have any trouble understanding the dialog at all, and found the script to be well written and witty. Although everything ends up a little too neat in the end, this was still a drama that pulls the audience in and makes you care what happens to all involved. I am glad I had the opportunity to see it, regardless of whether the filmmakers showed up for the Q&A :)
I must say...."On A Clear Day" was one of the best movies I've seen in
quite some time. Peter Mullan gave an awe-inspiring performance, while
the supporting cast only helped more. It is a very touching story, and
I would recommend it to anyone and everyone who has ever confronted a
tough trial in their life. The script is so real, the characters easy
to relate to, and a light comedic touch that keeps you laughing and
I was fortunate enough to see "On A Clear Day" at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah on Sunday the 23rd of January. After the film, the director and several members of the cast came onto the stage for a little Q&A. I was delighted to discover how down to earth Peter Mullan (Braveheart's "We will run...and we'll live."), Billy Boyd (our beloved Hobbit, Pippin), Brenda Blethyn and Benedict Wong are. They were even nice enough to stay after, sign autographs and chat with the fans.
If you love heart-warming stories, relatable characters, and a good laugh, "On A Clear Day" will certainly come through.
I saw this on opening night of the 2005 Sundance Film Festival and like everyone else who has commented so far this is a top notch movie especially in the sad bastard world of Independent film-making (not that there is anything wrong with that). The movie is about a hard working Scot metal worker named Frank who gets laid off of his job and struggles to find what to do next, he happens to be an avid swimmer and after some soul searching sets a goal on swimming the English channel. He and his crew which includes the very funny Billy Boyd (Pippin from LOTR)set out on training everyday to make the swim. The end ties up some emotional demons for Frank and is an uplifting finish to a very enjoyable movie. I believe had this been at the theater or TV I would have still enjoyed this movie even outside the confines of an Indie film festival that tends to make positive movies feel like the pot at the end of the rainbow. What a great cast, Peter Mullen is outstanding in the lead and equally is Brenda Blythen as his wife. I took to a liking of Benedict Wong who played the owner of a Chinese take out that turns into Franks head coach. Beware that the first 20 minutes of movie might seem a bit hard to follow due to some heavy ascents for us Americans but after you adjust a bit this movie will be worth the price of a ticket
I also had the opportunity to see "On a Clear Day" at the world
premiere on Friday night and thoroughly enjoyed it. I really hope that
this film gets picked up because its main themes would probably be well
received by mass audiences.
There was humor, family conflict, drama, and some great Scottish dialogue (some of which I do need to hear again in order to get ALL of the jokes.) It was just a great experience to be able to watch the film on location with all of the people who worked so hard to make it happen.
On a side note, my friends and I were able to meet Elijah Wood(even though he was not in the movie, he came to support Billy) and Billy afterwards. Being a hard-core Lord of the Rings fan, the experience was great. Please go and see it if you can!!
"On a Clear Day" is another of a familiar genre of the plucky bloke who
is retired (like "The World's Fastest Indian") and/or unemployed (like
"The Full Monty") and/or grieving (like the "Rocket Man" mini-series
shown in the U.S. on BBC America) and finds self-esteem by achieving an
impossible-seeming, galvanizing goal.
Alex Rose's debut script tries hard in an over-long effort to find conflict, personal growth and resolution as inspired by a true story of a laid-off dock worker who decides to swim the English Channel, but it is ultimately not as moving as the best of these can be (David Lynch's atypical "The Straight Story").
The film does find a fresh angle in an exploration of masculinity, as Peter Mullan's typical working class guy, who of course takes an opportunity to tell off his boss, is contrasted with his son the house husband (nice to see ruggedly handsome, earnest Sean McGinley who I mostly know from TV series) with a too bland wife but with adorable twin sons. While it was also amusing that this is the second movie I've seen this year where a Scotsman is inexplicably held up as an example of the New Man, as in "Take My Eyes (Te doy mis ojos)", their estrangement seems trumped up over a not very big secret and too drawn out, as is everything in the film, and could just as well be about the difficulties of male-to-male communication, as it finally resolves in a lesson learned for both. There is a lovely small scene with Mullan watching a class of handicapped kids at a swim lesson, but unfortunately that's used for inspiration and not second career options.
The impacts his efforts have on his wife and the usual assortment of eccentric friends to be inspired to take parallel steps toward conquering their very personal fears are a heartwarming, if very predictable, side story, and I would have welcomed more of their lives and half-hour less of Mullan's comic training travails (though the funniest lines were already in the trailer). Brenda Blethyn in particular is wonderful as a mature, independently determined wife with a dream to become a bus driver, the opposite of her fluttery "Mrs. Bennett" in "Pride & Prejudice".
The cinematography makes great use of the Glasgow street scenes in sharp visual contrast with the white cliffs of Dover and the bluest Channel water I've ever seen in a British film.
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