Twenty year-old Sam Smith (Roberts) is a Belgravia bellboy with big dreams. He’s a ‘bitch to the rich’, but he’s intent on joining them. Forced to run errands around the London’s wealthiest district for the spiteful concierge, Mr. Morgan (Geoff Bell), Sam is constantly surrounded by the money and excess that he feels he so badly needs. On first sight, he falls for Mary Bright (Poots) and, to be fair, it would be hard to blame him. She is an assistant at Clara, one of London’s most exclusive antique jewellers. She works for the avuncular Charlie (Spall), a crotchety old romantic, caught in a state of mourning. When the three of them become the hostages of a bungled robbery attempt, emotions run high. Things happen, people change. We live, we learn and we grow.
There’s a nice timeless effect, often useful in British films, considering how un-photogenic modern day Britain/Britons can be. Comes a Bright Day, with costumes supplied by Paul Smith, could be set in the 1960s until you see the first iPhone. As an obvious and effective cost-cutting strategy, you could count the films locations on one hand. Primarily, they are: A five-star hotel, a café and A Jewellery shop. Two of those three locations, however, represent a huge on-screen cost. As the gap widens between what we’ll pay to see in our cinemas and what we can find online from up-and-comers and hobbyists, production values are really starting to show up in crystal clear HD. Unfortunately, Comes a Bright Day, could’ve done with a couple more quid and austerity measures seem to have left it rough around the edges.
It’s Simon Aboud’s first feature, but he’s a very well seasoned photographer and commercials director. Two characteristics we might expect then, are an over-affection for Bokeh and a weak grasp on story structure. Aboud luckily avoids the latter, much more serious problem. His script hits plot points with textbook accuracy. It’s a rare treat to see a British film with such a rounded narrative. But everything is tied up in such pretty bows that we do end up getting a little bit schmaltzy.
We’ll be seeing a lot more of Imogen Poots in the next couple of years. She’s enchanting as we meet her, smouldering and mysterious at the beginning. She looks so classy, you can just tell she smells really good. It’s just slightly unfortunate that she turns it up to eleven very early into the proceedings, leaving things very hammy – like GCSE drama recital hammy – towards the climax of the story. Craig Roberts was reliably charming and compelling. Again, a strong future ahead of him. But the story leaned quite heavily on him growing up on a council estate in Camden. For the benefit of the Americans that this was clearly supposed to fool: He is well Welsh.
Shot almost entirely in Elstree Studios, this is a relatively strong film that really suffers from a lack of cash. For example, Cameron (McKidd) and Clegg (Josef Altin), the armed robbers, wear masks to cover their faces, but their eyes aren’t properly lit, so you can see some dodgy colour-correction going on around their faces. It’s London’s finest jewellery shop, but it’s actually a bit naff. To nail that classy British timeless vibe, that location would’ve had to have been really swanky, shot on a deep rich 35mm film and dressed to the nines with bona fide opulence.
As this film shared its cinematography equipment with Skyfall, it’s quite clear the film industry is becoming democratised here in England as well as in the States. And Comes A Bright Day is a step in the right direction, especially for us. More like this, with it’s moderate ambitions, strong narrative and sense of heritage courtesy of legendary Paul Smith, and we’ll get ourselves on a pretty good track.