Beautiful, available women; ugly racist shenanigans; haunting apparitions. They all come with a college student’s summer job in this marvelously juicy entertainment from the British fantasist (Some Kind of Fairy Tale, 2012, etc.).
Back in the day, there were English coastal resorts that gave working-class families a week of strenuous fun. Working-class himself, David Barwise looks for work at the Skegness resort, drawn there because of his father’s fatal heart attack on the beach when he was a toddler. It’s 1976, and the heat, strangely, is scorching. David is hired as a utility player at the tacky resort, working with both kids and grannies. He’s an appealing lad, if a touch naïve, and a hit with the friendly vacationers, but life is far from problem-free. He’s drawn into the orbit of two cleaners, Colin and his gorgeous wife, Terri. Colin, a brutal ex-con and abusive husband, makes David report any flirtations Terri may have, not realizing the student is a prime suspect; Terri and David feel a strong mutual attraction. On another front, David is bamboozled into attending an anti-immigrant fascist meeting, which lands him in hot water with another gorgeous woman, the half-Guyanese dancer Nikki. And there are his visions: a man in a blue suit with a boy. David feels revulsion. A primal fear is alive in him; a psychic, the resort’s resident laundry woman, will help him work through the trauma. Joyce folds this supernatural element gracefully into a realistic coming-of-age work that is also an evocation of a vanishing subculture. David is torn between Terri and Nikki; then Terri disappears, and Colin summons him, late at night, to dispose of some heavy plastic bags….
There’s so much to enjoy here, from the fake stage magic of a woman sawn in half to the real magic of a gifted professional at work.