Considering the press attention director Simon Aboud’s feature debut Comes a Bright Day (2011) so far has enjoyed, expectations are understandably high. Submarine (2011) star Craig Roberts plays Sam Smith, a Camden council estate escapee who winds up as a bellboy in a swanky hotel. He’s a magpie, in that he gravitates towards shiny, pretty things, but the closest he gets to them is transporting expensive watches for adjustment on behalf of the hotel manager, Mr Morgan (Geoff Bell).
Sam is sent to an exclusive antique jeweller where he spies the shiniest, prettiest thing of all, Mary (Imogen Poots), sales assistant to Charlie (Timothy Spall). Between these four walls, Sam is mesmerised by the opulence of the world he craves, until his heaven flips into hell as two gun-wielding robbers burst in. Code-named ‘Cameron’ and ‘Clegg’, the pair botch the robbery which escalates into a hostage situation. The stand-off becomes a stalemate, while Cameron (Kevin McKidd) tries to saw his way out with a letter opener and accomplice Clegg (Josef Altin) nurses the bullet wound in his foot. Not the likeliest scenario for a love story, but romance blossoms with an off-beat, contemporary spin.
Considering that Comes a Bright Day is set within tight perimeters with only sporadic bursts of action, Aboud has done well to avoid stale territory, and while the activity is often stationary, the atmosphere is never static. He utilises intuitive music choices and well-directed cameras; a scene in which Mary recounts the tragic story behind a bracelet to Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, whilst the cameras captures Charlie’s emotional reaction, was a memorable and moving moment.
However, these transfixing moments are not consistent enough to support the rigid ones, as some parts feel a little too smooth, and not quite believable. Whilst Roberts does well next to veterans Spall and McKidd, he doesn’t quite manage to shake off his middle-class demeanour, and some of the exchanges between him, Mary and Charlie feel too casual considering they are in a hostage situation.
Eastern Promises actor Altin was particularly well-cast and embodies his character with commendable skill – a stand-out, along with Poots. McKidd fully commits to his role but struggles to communicate the essence of his complicated character, whereas Spall’s abilities are under-played in the role of Charlie.
Overall, Aboud succeeded in delivering a well formulated narrative with a glossy veneer to hide its low budget (less than £1 million), who impressed mainly with his direction. Comes a Bright Day is a cool, witty and very watchable British heist film.