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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

Days of the Bagnold Summer (M) - 86 minutes

Updated: Feb 20, 2021

52-year-old English librarian Sue Bagnold’s (Monica Doland) husband Bob her left and her then young son Daniel eight years ago.

He now lives in Florida with his 36-year-old second wife, who is about to give birth to a child.

Daniel (Earl Cave), now 15, is on school holidays and looking forward to travelling to the States to spend time with his father.

Only a phone call changes that and Daniel is left to while away the summer at home, with only his mum and best friend Ky (Elliot Speller-Gillott) for company.

Daniel, like Ky, is into heavy metal music. His favourite band is Metallica, as reflected in his well-worn t-shirt.

In short, he is a layabout who expects his mother – who he treats badly – to do everything for him. A war of wills ensues.

The boy has a mighty big chip on his shoulders. He’s perpetually giving lip – sullen or angry or both.

Even shopping for shoes with his mum for an upcoming wedding becomes a nightmare.

Try as she does, nothing Sue says satisfies Daniel, who regards her as an embarrassment and says some particularly hurtful things.

One morning, after a run-in the night before, Sue insists that he prepare and hand around his resume to try to attract a summer job.

While Daniel does so, what catches his eye is a handwritten note on a notice board reaching out for a singer for a metal band.

In his pursuit of the same, Daniel has a falling out with Ky.

Meanwhile, Sue has unexpectedly been invited on a date by Daniel’s history teacher, the smooth-talking Douglas Porter (Rob Brydon).

Daniel is suitably grossed out.

As you can gather from what I have just told you, very little happens.

Sue doesn’t deserve the treatment she receives and Daniel has issues.

Adapted from a 2012 graphic novel by Joff Winterhart, Days of a Bagnold Summer is a gently funny coming of age story.

The screenplay is by Lisa Owens, while Simon Bird directs his first feature.

I appreciated the characterisations of Sue and Daniel. Both looked and acted suitably awkward.

Monica Doland channels “nerd” particularly well.

The film presents as fly on the wall material … like we are allowed to listen in on a mother and son’s frequent squabbles.

Some will appreciate the blitheness of it all. Others, I dare say, will be thinking much ado about nothing. What’s to see here, other than usual teenage rebellion?

The film follows a largely negative path until the final chapter, when an incident brings the pair closer.

Loud, metallic music stings are punctuated throughout the piece, reflecting Daniel’s musical states and the world he retreats into.

Notably, the one time he is called out publicly, he presents as remarkably shy.

Days of the Bagnold Summer is an independent, small audience film, which will only suit selective tastes.

Rated M, it scores a 6 out of 10.


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