On a Clear Day

Director: Gaby Dellal
Screenwriters: Alex Rose

Institute History

  • 2005 Sundance Film Festival


Working-class Glasgow is the backdrop for this delightful and moving modern fable of healing and redemption. Director Gaby Dellal returns to Sundance with a beautiful script by Alex Rose exploring the intricate effects of repressed emotion.

In On a Clear Day, the powerful draw of swimming the English Channel becomes a mythic metaphor for overcoming hurt and circumstance. Frank (Peter Mullan) is not the likeliest candidate for such an adventure. He is 55 years old, newly laid off from his job in the shipyard, and suffering the profound realization of being too old to start over and too young to give up. Frank's wife Joan (Brenda Blethyn) cannot cajole him from his depression nor give wings to feelings that have been buried under years of routine and discipline. All this, compounded with a strained relationship with his grown son, means Frank must make a choice—sink or swim. So why not the English Channel?

Mullan and Blethyn turn in vibrant performances, flanked by an eccentric slate of British character actors who portray the mates bracing Frank in his folly. Mullan is especially complex as Frank comes face to face with the physical challenge at hand while, more importantly, asking the ultimate question: Is he ready to confront the demons within?

— John Cooper

Screening Details

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