A simple but strong plot and some beautiful shots come together to create the delicious DAYS OF THE BAGNfOLD SUMMER, directed by Simon Bird (from Inbetweeners fame). As a mother and son are forced to spend the summer together after a change in plans, the film navigates emotional angst to produce a relatable and funny watch.
Visually, DAYS OF THE BAGNOLD SUMMER has some stunning shots. The framing isn’t stuffy or traditional, feeling as though it belongs in a sleek modern art gallery or a snazzy Instagram feed instead. Indeed, the entire film is fresh, colourful and inviting. Based on the graphic novel by Joff Winterhart, it is no wonder the film is so visually appealing, but it does well not to lose its artistic feel while remaining so relatable. The humour of DAYS OF THE BAGNOLD SUMMER finds powerful moments and touches on sensitive subjects, acknowledging them while never dropping momentum or its light-hearted touch.
The characterisation in the film is engaging, with solid performances from Monica Dolan as Sue Bagnold, and Earl Cave as her son Daniel. Their mother/son relationship is captivating, and they both bounce off of one another’s cues. Their awkward interactions are some of the most uncomfortable moments in the film. Yet, these scenes are also often the funniest, with the film thriving, in particular, on moments of awkward humour. Although humorous, a scene within a fudge shop where Daniel is forced into an awkward demonstration is also particularly touching. It reveals the connection between mother and son as, instead of laughing at Daniel, Sue understands his embarrassment and experiences it herself. Something about Daniel and Sue’s relationship leaves you wanting to see more of their interactions, no matter how uncomfortable these moments can be. Their mother/son dynamic is refreshing, and the portrayal of teenage angst and parental disarray is set against the often filmic bubble of summer, colour and perfectly placed props. While contrasting, both of these elements work together to draw the viewer into this comedic yet complex world. Appearances from both Tamsin Greig and Rob Brydon (in equally amusingly annoying roles) also add to the film’s allure.
With a score from Belle and Sebastian, DAYS OF THE BAGNOLD SUMMER perfectly encapsulates the turbulent emotions of the teenage experience. Their dreamy sound gives atmosphere to the already picturesque settings, and although there is a lot of them in the film, they provide the perfect equilibrium to Daniel’s love of heavy metal.
As Bird’s debut, DAYS OF THE BAGNOLD SUMMER indicates a successful career for him behind the camera as well as in front. Although its style is not wholly removed from Bird’s past acting enterprises, it builds on the successes of shows like The Inbetweeners to produce a genuinely funny watch. The film feels sophisticated, and its focus on a timeless subject of mother and son relationships will ensure this comedic watch will find appreciation with those of all ages.