This bittersweet debut feature from The Inbetweeners’ Simon Bird is a mature and poignant tale of family struggles. Based on Joff Winterhart’s 2012 graphic novel of the same name, this particular family, the Bagnolds, is composed of single mother Sue (Monica Dolan) and her stroppy teenage son Daniel (Earl Cave). Both central characters share a coming-of-age and coming-together story as the bonds of their relationship are strengthened, both by proximity and also rejection from others outside of their family bubble.

Daniel, consistently clad in Metallica gear, was due to spend summer with his father and new family in Florida, but things don’t pan out as planned. He finds himself left to his own devices in the company of seemingly boring mum Sue, who does initially present herself as somewhat introverted and bland, both in dress and in attitude. Through allowing the audience the experience of witnessing personal growth, especially for Sue, we gradually see more personality shine through, whilst also revealing both the pair’s loneliness, self-isolation and depression.

Through the day-to-day account of their relationship, Bird builds a world littered with more confident characters than his central pair. Sue’s sister Carol (Alice Lowe), a prime example, is constantly attempting to bring sister Sue out of her shell. Whilst Daniel spends most of his time with eccentric friend Ky (Elliot Speller-Gillott), whose new-age mother (Tamsin Greig) plays a subtle game of one-upmanship with Sue.

Daniel and Ky soon fall out and Sue’s date with ‘randy’ teacher Mr. Porter (Rob Brydon) goes nowhere fast, paving the way for Sue and Daniel to somewhat forcibly bond, to heartwarming effect. Featuring a brilliantly poetic soundtrack by Belle and Sebastian, Bird offers up a slightly superficial commentary on perceived depression, but the film is a promising, bittersweet watch nonetheless. 


Available to watch on: Curzon Home Video, BFI Player


CAST: Monica Dolan, Earl Cave, Rob Brydon, Alice Lowe, Tamsin Greig, Elliot Speller-Gillott, Grace Hogg-Robinson

DIRECTOR: Simon Bird

WRITER: Joff Winterhart, Lisa Owens

SYNOPSIS: Due to spend time in Florida, teenage Daniel tries to get through summer listening to heavy metal. When his Florida plans are scuppered he has to spend summer with his Librarian mother Sue.