Regrettably, this motion picture does not chronicle a book club devoting a season to the works of Enid Bagnold. In fact, no reference is made to the author of “The Chalk Garden” and “National Velvet.”
Instead, “Days of the Bagnold Summer,” adapted from the Joff Winterhart graphic novel by the screenwriter Lisa Owens and the director Simon Bird, is a coming-of-age story that aspires to winsomeness and wisdom, but only gets so far.
The British Bagnold family of the title here consists of Sue (Monica Dolan), a shy middle-aged single mother, and her son, Daniel (Earl Cave), a teen of zombielike pallor and limp hair. Daniel has a trip to Florida looming; there, he plans to spend time with his father, who’s ditched him and mom. The trip is canceled and the chip on Daniel’s shoulder practically triples in size.
Amiably anecdotal, the movie gets wry results from Dolan and other players, including Rob Brydon as a would-be ladies man and Tamsin Greig as a “hipper” mom than Sue.
It also takes pleasure in deflating Daniel’s enthusiasms. In one scene, the aimless teen bicycles, at unimpressive speed, through suburban streets to the musical accompaniment of Pure Disgust’s “Agents of the Machine.” We get the irony, or rather, the sarcasm: Metal’s grandiose racket seems completely disconnected from the banal lives endured by some of its listeners. The overall song score is by the more dulcet-toned Belle and Sebastian — the implication is that this is what truly grown-up people listen to.
Its reactionary aesthetic aside, the movie’s narrative trajectory is arguably too relaxed. By the end of the summer, it’s nice to see Daniel’s chip has diminished, but it’s slightly befuddling that it seems to have gone away by itself.
Days of the Bagnold Summer
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 26 minutes. In theaters and virtual cinemas, and available to rent or buy on Google Play, FandangoNow and other streaming platforms and pay TV operators.
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