Sam (Craig Roberts) is a wannabe businessman who’s found himself stuck as a bellboy for the Mandarin Oriental and its authoritarian, indifferent manager, when all he really wants is to open a restaurant with his best friend Elliot (Anthony Welsh). When on an errand to a local jewellery store, Sam finds himself caught up in a hostage situation by robbers Cameron (Kevin McKidd) and Clegg (Josef Altin). With the aid of store owner, Charlie (Timothy Spall), and his assistant, Mary (Imogen Poots), Sam must find a way for them to escape unharmed.
Marking British filmmaker Simon Aboud’s first foray into feature writing and directing, Comes A Bright Day is a mostly neat, yet unrefined debut that sees him make the cross into feature filmmaking almost effortlessly. Unfortunately, where Comes A Bright Day represents someone with an obvious talent at being an actors director, he doesn’t show the same potential in the film’s more action and tension-orientated moments, but that’s mostly due to the disparagingly low production values on display.
It’s not all Aboud’s fault, though, and he’s surprisingly capable of elevating Comes A Bright Day from the unworkable thriller it simply doesn’t have the credentials to be into an endearing and well formulated character study about the friendships and overriding sense of hope and optimism that can arise from even the most difficult, terrorising situations. Once past the initial tonal wobbles and issues that come with an almost non-existent budget and cheap-looking sets, he’s able to hone his skills, particularly in his ability to draw out emotionally charged performances and use neat camera tricks to create artificial tension and claustrophobia.
That’s not to say the shoddy, oppressive production values can be overlooked entirely, though, as they often distract from what has the potential to be a beautiful three-hander. It finds itself succumbing to questionable compositions, unconvincing effects and a foreboding sense of tragedy that, particularly when trying to convey an authentic hostage situation, is absolutely key to success. The result is a film that, when removed of the quiet and reflective interplay between Sam, Charlie and Mary and the sheer menace of Cameron, is all too uneven for its own good.
Thankfully, we’re treated to far more scenes that focus on the carefully mapped out and emotionally enthralling exchanges between the three leads than we are to the unexplainable robbery itself. As well as providing the film with its focal point, it allows Roberts, Spall and Poots (a true star in the making), the actors portraying the trapped trio, to deliver some truly stand-out, memorable performances. Performances that, along with Aboud’s defiant dedication and promise as both a writer and director, make Comes A Bright Day more of a success than a disaster.