“On a Clear Day”

By Jae-Ha Kim
June 9, 2006

An independent film from Britain, On a Clear Day tells the story of a man trying to come to terms with his past by setting a goal for the future: to swim across the English Channel. Frank (Peter Mullan) is a stoic man who tells his young grandson, “Things aren’t meant to be fixed nowadays.”

After working all his life, the Glasgow shipbuilder finds himself middle-aged and jobless. His loving wife Joan (two-time Academy Award nominee Brenda Blethyn) tries to lessen the financial burden by learning to become a bus driver. Frank’s relationship with his househusband son Rob (Jamie Sives) is distant at best. And though he doesn’t speak of his other son, who drowned decades ago, Frank thinks of him often.

Director Gaby Dellal reveals a gentle touch in the film’s quieter moments. But she’s just at home balancing the melodramatic moments (Rob confronting his father in a swimming pool) with comic relief (Frank’s friendship with a woebegone group of men, including optimistic Danny, played by Billy Boyd from The Lord of the Rings). In the end, it’s less important whether Frank’s goals are met than mending his broken relationships.

The finale is touching in the way it all plays out, because some things are meant to be fixed.


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