Monday, 15 May 2017

Adult Life Skills - Dir. Rachel Tunnard

A little quirk can go a long way on screen and thankfully Rachel Tunnard, who writes, directs and edits this feature length adaptation of her BAFTA nominated short Emotional Fusebox, balances the idiosyncrasies of her characters with an affecting story of grief and the difficulties in overcoming it.

On the cusp of her 30th birthday, Anna (Jodie Whittaker) spends her days and nights tucked away in her mum’s shed at the bottom of the garden. She has yet to come to terms with the death of her twin brother, but is forced into confronting her future when she has to look out for eight-year-old neighbour Clint (Ozzy Myers).

There have been plenty of films with characters clinging on to their teenage years as the realities of proper adulthood rapidly approach, but Adult Life Skills posses an overwhelming sincerity that treats Anna’s troubles with the respect they deserve; there’s never the sense that she should just simply get over it. People react to tragedies in different ways and the intricacies of Anna’s life and character (such as her enthusiasm for making videos starring faces drawn on her thumbs) lend the somewhat familiar narrative framework a uniqueness that may be described as twee, but is distinctly human.

The overriding honesty of the film is exemplified in Jodie Whittaker’s engaging performance. You feel the frustration of Anna’s mother and grandmother (Lorraine Ashbourne and Eileen Davies) as they try to help her but also understand why she is reluctant to move on. A tad more urgency during the early stages of the film might not have gone amiss, but Tunnard makes powerful use of imagery to keep the story flowing; the sight of young Clint shaving his head is more moving than any words could be.

Adult Life Skills is out now on DVD and Blu-ray.