Story

Frank (Peter Mullan) has worked at a Glasgow ship yard for 35 years and is made redundant at 55. Feeling desperate about his life, he starts to look for a new direction. A casual remark from friend Danny (Billy Boyd) that ‘on a clear day he could swim to France’ sets Frank on a course to swim the English Channel. He starts training seriously but keeps his plans from his family, loving wife Joan (Brenda Blethyn) and son Rob (Jamie Sives).

Rob is a stay-at-home dad who lovingly and over-protectively looks after his twin sons. Rob, himself a twin, lost his brother to a drowning accident when young. Father and son both hold on to guilt about the event. It causes tension between them and leaves them unable to have a proper relationship.

While training at his local pool, Frank is impressed by disabled youngsters who come to the pool and overcome great difficulty to proudly swim the width of the pool. This gives Frank much courage to continue with his goal of swimming the Channel. His old work mates are also very supportive of him. When the time comes for Frank to swim the Channel, he overcomes much more than physical exhaustion. In fact, he manages to put behind the past that has restrained him for so long.

Themes

Death of a child; disability

Violence

There is one violent scene in which Rob confronts his father in the pool and they have a fight.

Content that may disturb children

Under 8

  • An employee made redundant at the same time as Frank deliberately chops his hand off in a machine to gain compensation. This isn’t actually shown, but talked about.
  • The disabled children at the pool are actually disabled and are shown walking with great difficulty. One is confined to a wheelchair and is obviously mentally disabled.
  • Danny also attempts to do a long-distance swim but gets into difficulty. He goes into convulsions and Frank has to rescue him. Danny is then taken to hospital.
  • A flashback is shown of Rob’s twin brother drowning. Frank goes in to rescue him and carries him out of the water but is unable to revive him. This scene is quite distressing.

Over 8

Children in this age group probably wouldn’t be scared but could still be upset by the scene of the young boy drowning.

Sexual references

None

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

The movie contains several scenes in which characters drink beer at home and in the pub.

Nudity and sexual activity

The movie contains no actual nudity, but there are several scenes of men undressing in change rooms and showering. One man loses his trousers.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie: Coke and Heinz ketchup.

Coarse language

This movie contains frequent mild to medium-level coarse language.

Ideas to discuss with your children

On a Clear Day is a humorous yet poignant film that will appeal to many adolescents and adults. In looking for a new direction for his life, Frank overcomes personal demons that have always haunted his relationship with his son. The main message from this movie is one of overcoming adversity and endurance.

You might like to discuss the values presented in this movie: 

  • friendship, respect and tolerance
  • overcoming adversity
  • endurance
  • the importance of families.

You could also talk about equality in gender roles, and why it’s important to discuss problems with others and not keep them bottled up.