Director Simon Bird brings his own childhood growing up in Guildford1 to bear in a charming, low-key encapsulation of a long summer in the suburbs.
Based on the 2012 graphic novel by Joff Winterhart, Days of the Bagnold Summer follows teenage metalhead Daniel (Earl Cave), frustrated to discover that he won’t be spending the holiday in Florida with dad and dad’s pregnant partner, and his mum Sue (Monica Dolan).
Lisa Owens’ script feels crucially authentic, finding gentle humour and heartbreak in the ebb and flow of its central relationship. The mopey Daniel with his frequent, occasionally cruel blowups and fussy, beige-cardigan-wearing Sue could be tiresome, but instead are utterly winning.
Cave brings Daniel’s soulfulness to bear within that Metallica hoody and Dolan finds every nuance of Sue’s self-censored interior life, the gentle hopes and petty disappointments that illuminate her days. Proceedings are enlivened by a sparkling supporting cast – Tasmin Grieg as a hippy neighbour; Rob Brydon as a charming, would-be suitor; Alice Lowe as Sue’s well-meaning sister; Tim Key as an overfamiliar fudge-maker.
The film’s soundtrack, by indie rock group Belle and Sebastian, evokes New Hollywood coming-of-age stories like The Graduate and Harold and Maude, further supported by Simon Tindall’s airy cinematography, but Days of the Bagnold Summer is as inescapably British as an electric milk float – albeit one being driven past to the roar of death metal.
The Days of Bagnold Summer finds consequence in the inconsequential. It makes the act of – begrudingly – sharing a bit of cake seem special and maybe even a bit profound. 2
Days of the Bagnold Summer is now available for Digital Download