Sunday, 27 June 2010


Often referred to as the missing Roman Polański film (he wrote it but gave directing rights to Simon Hesera), A Day At The Beach portrays the story of Bernie, a mouthy alcoholic who is given the task of taking his young, disabled niece Winnie out for the day. The plan is to visit the seaside, but the day begins with torrential rain. With an uncertain degree of determination, Bernie takes Winnie there all the same, settling in various cafés and bars to get some Dutch courage. As he grows drunker, he quickly forgets his obligations to Winnie, and before long he is attending bars alone, while Winnie puts herself in great danger playing hide and seek outdoors.

Though ostensibly not an uplifting film in any capacity, A Day At The Beach does have its virtues. Bernie is a three-dimensional character, his aggression and world-weariness clearly derived from a sense of loss (it is implied more than once that ‘Uncle’ Bernie is in fact Winnie’s biological father). Despite Bernie’s lack of avuncular charm and complete irresponsibility, Winnie appears to have a soft spot for him throughout, even jumping to his defence when he is beaten up by a creditor, and there are brief glimpses of heartwarming humanity amidst the doom and gloom of the day’s events. Occasionally the film loses its raison d’être, and one wonders what Polański’s direction might have done, but overall it’s an intriguingly sinister slice of life. Look out for Peter Sellers as a camp-as-hell stall owner.

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