This half-cocked, London-set crime caper makes way too many mistakes, but suggests its first-time director may yet come good.
Cockish? Scotney? On the still-twitching tail of Woody Allen's very own cinematic Altamont – Cassandra's Dream – in which Ewan McGregor committed accent Harakiri by trying his hand at a cockney, we now have another Scot going all gawblimeyguvnor in this stylish but over-written British chamber drama.
Actor Kevin McKidd's valiant attempt to sound like a market trader from Bermondsey is just one of a number of empty affectations that pepper Simon Aboud's stuttering debut feature concerning a bungled jewellery heist where love, ambition, deception and social standing all become talking-points in the film's plush single location.
Young Welsh deadpanite, Craig Roberts (not attempting cockney), plays a gawky hotel dogsbody with delusions of grandeur who becomes instantly smitten with Imogen Poots' coquettish jewellery shop clerk. He follows her back to her workplace at the exact time the Zorro-masked McKidd and his dopey wing man (Josef Altin) – their characters are named Cameron and Clegg (fnah!) – have chosen to shake the place down.
There's plenty of faux-poetic rhubarbing, meaningful glares into the middle distance and close-up shots of flowery wallpaper as the captors, which also includes Timothy Spall's sage shopkeep (who's dropped his cockney accent), try to deal with these gun-toting maniacs.
Less Dog Day Afternoon, more Hotel Babylon, Aboud's film never quite develops a rhythm or an intensity that chimes with the desperate situation these characters have found themselves in. At its worst, it comes across like an extended scene from a Guy Ritchie film, demonstrating a palpable tin ear for both romantic and gangland dialogue, where the former is all cooing whimsicality and the latter is all high-decibel f'ing and blinding.
There's also a workaday pretentiousness at play, especially in the bizarre asides where McKidd's character become captivated by the beauty of opera music playing in his head; a clunky shorthand suggesting that because this murderous goon is 'cultured', we should perhaps pity his descent into crime hell.
Comes a Bright Day is not offensively bad or anything like that. As a calling card film it does the trick, and some of the style and mild eccentricity on show suggest Aboud might go on to make something half decent. Yet, the film as a whole lacks punch, spirit and any sense that its writer-director has something important to say about the world.
And, y'know, why not avoid a visible roadbump and cast a cockney actor if it was so urgent for your character to be a cockney?
Following his starring role in Submarine, young actor Craig Roberts is now a name to follow.
Some pleasant eccentric touches don't hide the fact that this is over-long and under-cooked.
Props to director Simon Aboud for trying something a little different, even if things didn't quite come together.