Making the Grades
Most adults experience a midlife crisis of some sort. For Frank Redmond (Peter Mullan) it comes with his dismissal from the Glasgow shipyard where he has been employed for the past thirty-six years. Cut loose from the mores of his well-established daily routine, the fifty-plus-year-old man finds himself floating directionless on an uncharted sea.
Along with the sudden financial turbulence and questions about what to do with his newfound free time, comes an opportunity for self-introspection. These activities bring Frank little peace, especially the latter. Married to a loving and supportive spouse (Brenda Blethyn), as well as blessed with a grown son (Jamie Sives) and two grandchildren (Andrew and James MacLennan), he should be very happy. Instead, he and his wife Joan are drifting further and further apart, while his relationship with Rob and the kids continues to be eroded by undercurrents of past disappointments. And somewhere in the clouded corners of his mind, Frank is still struggling to come to terms with a long ago tragedy.
Then a ray of light breaks through his gloomy outlook in the form of an inspired thought. Why not prove his self-worth by attempting the ultimate physical challenge--swimming the English Channel? Sensing his family will not see the wisdom in this illogical pursuit, Frank decides to keep it a secret from them. However, he shares the idea with some former workmates, who plunge headlong into helping him train for the attempt.
As it turns out, the process of reaching this perhaps-ridiculous goal, sets off far reaching ripples. Buoyed up by Frank's sense of purpose, pessimist Eddie (Sean McGinley), fearful Norman (Ron Cook), reclusive Chan (Benedict Wong), and insecure Danny (Billy Boyd) all find the internal motivation to act upon their own dreams. However, the proposed swim has the opposite effect at home, nearly drowning Joan who is trying to keep her head above her own identity crisis, and turning the unresolved differences between father and son into a gale-force storm.
Although the script is deluged with mild and moderate profanities, sprinkled with sexual innuendo and splashed with implied nudity (during a locker room scene), the meaningful messages still manage to rise to the top. When Frank launches out On a Clear Day to conquer his inner fears, he discovers it is not the strength of his stroke but the power of friendship, love and forgiveness that are needed to cross the great divide.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about On a Clear Day.
The Redmond family has endured a past tragedy. Why does this incident play a part in Frank’s decision to swim the channel? How does the experience affect the way Ron treats his children? Why can the past have such a profound influence on the future?
Why does Joan feel honesty is so important in a marriage? In spite of that, what secrets has she kept? How can avoiding the truth negatively impact relationships?