On a Clear Day
For all of its heartfelt intentions, the Scottish comic drama "On a Clear Day" just misses having sufficient finesse to punch home the tragic and comic qualities of its hero, a 55-year-old Glasgow shipyard worker named Frank Redmond (Peter Mullan).
It joins a vast, invariably compelling group of British and Irish films about working-class men struggling with pride, mortality, an embarrassing (to them) vulnerability and here -- as in "The Full Monty," "Brassed Off" and others -- unemployment.
Demeaned by his sudden inability to provide for himself and his wife, Joan (Brenda Blethyn), Frank idles in a public swimming pool, sometimes with his buddies, as he shapes a plan to restore his self-confidence and to prove himself by swimming the English Channel.
Director Gaby Dellal and screenwriter Alex Rose regularly seek out water sources, from rivers to showers, to underscore a thematic cleansing of the soul and a fresh start for a man fighting depression, panic attacks, guilt for one son's death long ago and his discomfort with surviving son Rob (Jamie Sives).
Even beyond the unpersuasive detours it takes en route to predictable uplift moments, "On a Clear Day" is a bit too diffuse and laid back to register effectively when it depicts several little victories.
It's too safe and too familiar in its depiction of renewal.
We go in rooting for Frank. Considering the film's comic touches don't quite play anyway, we could use a more pithy insight into his angst and the very real problems that a good swim won't resolve.
- At the Squirrel Hill Theater.
Details'On a Clear Day'
Rated PG-13 for language;