British romantic thriller Comes a Bright Day stars Submarine’s Craig Roberts as Sam Smith, a young bellboy at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in London. When his boss Mr Morgan sends him on an errand, to take a watch belonging to one of the guests to a nearby jewellers to get it adjusted, he pops into the café where his best friend Elliot works on the way. There he is introduced to Mary (Imogen Poots) who spots the expensive watch he has decided to slip on and tells him he should stop by ‘Clara’, the exclusive jewellery boutique where she works, which just so happens to be the place his boss told him to visit.
So off he goes to the jewellers, to eye up the sparkling gems and the beautiful assistant Mary. Unfortunately, while he is there two armed robbers, who call each other Cameron (Kevin McKidd) and Clegg (Josef Altin) to hide their real names, burst in. The jewellery shop’s owner Charlie (Timothy Spall) sounds the alarm and the police are soon on their way, but after a shootout during which Clegg is shot in the foot, the criminals retreat back inside. Getting caught up in this jewellery heist-gone-wrong leaves Sam, Mary, and Charlie trapped inside, taken hostage by the psychotic Cameron and his partner-in-crime as they look for a way to escape.
Comes a Bright Day is writer and director Simon Aboud’s feature-length debut. He began his career as a writer for an advertising agency, and does well with this low budget film, which restricts most of its action to just one room. The confined environment is well-used and tensions run high for the criminals and hostages who are all trapped.
The failed robbery attempt at the jewellers isn’t the main focus of the film; it’s more of a backdrop. It provides an opportunity for the main characters to get to know each other, and there are lots of scenes with Sam, Mary, and Charlie talking about their lives and their dreams. Mary tells a touching story about the history of a ruby bracelet, which offers some welcome escapism during the hostage situation.
The film is partly a coming of age story about Sam gaining the confidence to achieve his dream of opening a restaurant with his friend, and partly a love story about a chance encounter with Mary. These tend to push the more thrilling criminal parts to the side, meaning the supporting cast don’t get enough time to shine. Kevin McKidd’s disturbed robber with a stutter is entertaining and intense but underused. The complicated character enjoys listening to Madame Butterfly while slowing sawing through a ceiling panel in the hopes of finding an escape route. But his motivations are never explained and we don’t learn much about him, which is a shame.
Comes a Bright Day tries to juggle lots of elements and genres, leaving some by the wayside slightly while others take centre stage. Ultimately though it is still a very watchable British film with a great cast, and it marks a promising debut from Simon Aboud.
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