Simon Bird on Days of the Bagnold Summer: 'I felt that there hadn't been a British film in this territory for a while'
- Eddie Harrison
- 5 June 2020
Director Simon Bird, plus stars Monica Dolan and Earl Cave talk about capturing awkward family tensions in the new British comedy
Simon Bird is no stranger to teenage angst; as Will McKenzie in The Inbetweeners, he's used to acting out the kind of issues associated with raging hormones. At the grand old age of 36, he's taken that energy into his first feature as director, an adaptation of Joff Winterheart's graphic novel Days of the Bagnold Summer.
'I was never a metal-head or anything like that,' says Bird, 'I wanted to direct a film, I read this amazing graphic novel and thought it would make for a great British suburban comedy drama. I felt that there hadn't been a British film in this territory for a while.'
Days of the Bagnold Summer features BAFTA-winner Monica Dolan as a single mom wrestling with her rebellious, long-haired, heavy-metal loving son Daniel (Earl Cave).
'In terms of understanding Sue, it was great having the graphic novel there as a reference point … ' says Dolan. 'For example, in the novel she remembers her own youth listening to James Taylor, so these details helped me find different layers to Sue.'
Cave, son of musician Nick, plays Daniel as a young man with issues; a musical opportunity heightens his desire to escape his librarian mother, but his early encounters with drink and drugs don't go well.
'We've all been through these awkward moments, coming home, your mum sitting up for you, you can't get your shoes off, or get your key in the door,' says Cave. 'Daniel is a bit lost, he's trying to work things out, and I absolutely related to that. You don't know your place yet, so you try different things, and I guess Daniel is relatable, not just for me, but for everyone.'
'Daniel and Sue both come of age in this story, but not quite in the way that you might expect,' says Dolan. 'There's so much in her life that Sue hasn't dealt with, so it's frightening to Sue that Daniel's pushing back against her. There's a real poignancy in these small moments between them, they do have a cumulative effect.'
And to gild the lily, the whole enterprise has a Belle and Sebastian soundtrack; did Bird feel that the film had a rock and roll feel?
'I always had in mind that the music would be in the style of Belle and Sebastian, and was delighted when they signed up really quickly. Stuart Murdoch was incredibly collaborative and helped making the perfect soundtrack for the film,' says Bird. 'I suppose that when I was younger, rather than music, comedy was my form of rebellion. I was a very well behaved little schoolboy, but I enjoyed doing a sketch-show and being allowed to be cheeky and make fun of the teachers, so that was my rebellion and I guess I'm still rebelling to this day.'
Days of the Bagnold Summer is available on streaming platforms from Mon 8 Jun.