Director Gaby Dellal makes a good overall impression with her debut feature film, On a Clear Day. Penned by first-time feature screenwriter Alex Rose, the film, which is shot on location in Scotland (Glasgow and the Isle of Man, to be specific) and Dover, France, incorporates a wide range of emotions into its storyline. While the film touches upon everything from accomplishment and excitement to self-deprecation and grief, it does, thankfully, manage to avoid the pitfall of becoming overly indulgent in these potent emotions.

The film opens on a typically overcast Scottish day, and introduces audiences to a similarly gloomy Frank Redmond (Peter Mullan of Trainspotting and Young Adam) a gray haired, 55-year-old man who truly emotes more than he speaks. Frank has been a shipbuilder in Glasgow for 40 years, so the scene we find him in ˆ the launching of a new vessel ˆ should be exciting. But it‚s not, at least for Frank, who has just lost his job.

Finding himself without direction or purpose for the first time in his life, Frank trudges home, completely unsure about what will become of his life from this point forward.

While on a „booze cruise‰ one day with his wife (Pride and Prejudice‚s Brenda Blethyn) and buddies, though, Frank finally finds some inspiration. As the group is traveling between the UK and Dover, one of Frank‚s buddies casually mentions that, on a clear day, one can see all the way to France. This casual statement turns on a light bulb in Frank‚s mind, and he therefore decides that, to regain some purpose and pride in his life, he is going to swim the English Channel.

While the focus of the film becomes Frank‚s ambition to swim the Channel, Rose and Dellal do a decent job of keeping On a Clear Day from falling too far and deep into any one emotion. Instead of being a heavy, sorrowful film (as the viewer learns, Frank lost a child 25 years ago and has shut himself off emotionally ever since), Day balances its storyline and emotional weight nicely, and also allows for the infiltration of some dry, self-deprecating Scottish humor.

Because of all these aspects, the film becomes a sort of easily digestible ˆ somewhat fairytale like story about one man‚s inspiring ambition to swim the English Channel. For all of these reasons, On a Clear Day proves to be a heart-tugging, low-key film that succeeds in getting its message across.

Grade: B