Directed by Gaby Dellal, starring Peter Mullan, Brenda Blethyn, Jamie Sives, Sean McGinley and Billy Boyd.
Frank (Mullan) didn't just lose his job when he was made redundant from the shipyard in Glasgow. He lost his dignity and purpose too. For the first time in 35 years he was idle, with too much time to think and blame himself for his son's Stuart drowning accident 23 years ago. One day on the booze cruise to France, Frank's friend Danny (Boyd) jokes that you could swim the Channel on a clear day. Frank takes up the notion and makes it his new purpose.
Concealing his plan from his wife Joan (Blethyn), Frank trains solidly for six months, driven by a psychological purpose and the tangible French coast. An inner strength gives rise to the most ferocious physical strength that allows Frank to take on the English Channel. In facing the vast waters, Frank reconciles the 23-year rift with his son Rob (Sives), and leaves behind his lost son Stuart.
Set in working class Glasgow, many people around Frank are living with their own inner battles. Frank's battle is with himself. He was destroyed by his failure to save his son from drowning. Haunted by flashbacks of his son drowning, he never let go of the guilt and held on to this secret. A lack of communication with his other son Rob drove a rift between the two, a nothingness that was eventually only bridged by reaching out and touching hands on the edge of the French coast.
This drama masterfully delves into the heart of all the relationships involved. The estranged father-son relationship of Frank and Rob, sometimes hard to watch with scenes of overwhelming emotion, is a credit to both Mullan and Sives. The supportive relationship between Frank and his friends, Frank and his wife and the untainted relationship with his two grandsons are firmly developed. Even Frank's inner struggle is captured, aided by flashbacks, but communicated through his face and his determined strokes in the water.
Swept with casual humour and not drowned in comedy, 'On a Clear Day' is Gaby Dellal's drama about one man's need to redeem himself. It is ultimately a poignant story of ambition, challenge and reward with perseverance. It hits you hard, captures your heart and tears you down. But above all, it's a film with a real purpose, with an ending of raw emotion, verging on absolute beauty.