Days of the Bagnold Summer - Days of the Bagnold Summer(Blu Ray) [Anti-World Releasing - 2022]
Teen angst dramas are often difficult to get right- they can be contrived, too obsessed with trying to keep it real/edgy. Or the characters are cliched, badly drawn, and worse of all trying. From the late 2010s Days of the Bagnold Summer is one of the better examples of the genre. The British feature is a lightly drifting along drama-come-subtle comedy, charting the relationship between a fifteen-year-old male metal-head, and his frumpy/ geeky fifty-something single mum. Here from Anti-World Releasing is a Blu-Ray release of the film- taking together a good enough selection of extras, and a glossy inlay booklet.
From 2019 Days of the Bagnold Summer is the first film directed by Guildford, Surrey-born Simon Bird, who is most known as an actor in the likes of The Inbetweeners & Friday Night Dinner-where he plays geeky and up-tight characters. I had been a big fan of his work in both of the mentioned TV shows, but was somewhat wary if he could make the jump into directing- so I’m happy to report he does a great job here- with a good shot use, great cast who all play their roles well, and a drifting- but always engaging unfold.
The film is set in and around the six-week holiday that all school goers in the UK have- and focuses on fifteen-year-old Daniel (Earl Cave) and his mother Sue (Monica Dolan). It had been planned that Daniel was going to spend the holidays in the US- with his father who has recently got remarried, and his younger wife is due to give birth- but at the last minute it’s cancelled. So, he’s stuck with his mother Sue for the holiday, who is frumpy and geeky- while he is a lank-haired metal head.
The one-hour and twenty-five-minute film doesn’t have grand or fancy set-ups, or big developments- it drifts along much like real life, with us getting snapshots of the pair's interaction over the six-week period. The relationship between the pair feels both very real and believable- as they lightly bicker, fall out, and awkwardly rub along. As a now grown-up awkward teen metal head myself, I feel Cave's depiction is spot-on and you really do feel for him in that awkward place between childhood and adulthood. Equally one can relate to Dolan as the rundown, though trying to do her best mum- who is trying to get her own life back on track, after bringing up Daniel solo from the age of eight.
The surrounding cast is well selected and placed too- and if you know UK TV/ Film they be a few faces you know- we have Tamsin Greig(who acted alongside Bird In Friday Night Dinner) as the self-assured, through slightly obnoxious Astrid- the mother of Daniel best also metal-head mate Ky (Elliot Speller-Gillott). There’s Rob Brydon(Would I Lie To You, Human Remains, The Trip) as Douglas Porter, Daniels's history teacher who asks his mother out. Alice Low(Sight Seers, Garth Marenghi's Darkplace) as Sue’s more outgoing hairdresser sister. We have a small role from Tim Kay(Alan Partridge, The Witchfinder) as a Fudge-making chef who’s connected to one of the film's most toe-curling moments.
The main focus here is the drama- but it also has touches of humour, these are always very natural and never forced- which all adds even more charm and warmth to the whole thing. In conclusion Days of the Bagnold Summer is easily one of the better teen angst dramas- and I very much look forward to seeing what Mr Bird does next in the director's seat.
Moving onto this region B Blu Ray- and we get a good selection of extras. First of we have a Making of- this runs just shy of thirty-two minutes, and brings together an on-screen interview with director Bird, the film's producer, and the cast. There’s Influences and Inspirations- this runs around the eight-minute mark, and finds Bird discussing films that fed into him making the film to hand- this is rather interesting/ lightly amusing. There’s a fourteen-minute screen test with the two actors. There’s a selection of three short films by Joff Winterhart, who wrote the graphic novel was based on- these jointly run around the twenty-seven-minute mark. We have an onscreen interview with Winterhart, and this runs nearing the twenty-eight-minute mark. We have around six minutes worth of deleted scenes, and an original trailer.
The release is finished off with a twenty-eight-page glossy inlay booklet- taking in new writing on the film by director Simon Bird, screenwriter Lisa Owens, film critic Leigh Singer, and unseen stills, film credits and technical details.
In conclusion, this is another worthy and unexpected release from the folks at genre-jumping film label Anti-World Releasing, who really can’t be tyred down with what they put out. A release for fans of well-made, drama comedies- and as I mentioned early certainly one of the better/ honest coming-of-age films I’ve seen in some time.Roger Batty