Reviews - Adult Life Skills
Adult Life Skills
Reviewed By Vaughan Ames
Wow..! Keswick Film Club has been trying to support new UK film directors for some years by showing two of their films for the price of one to encourage people along to see them. This year started badly for us but well for the directors: both directors were too busy to get here. BUT from then on, what a great afternoon of film!
We had two films, both comedies, both around the subject of death, both by young female directors...and both very good!
We started the day with 'Burn Burn Burn', directed by Chanya Button, the story of Dan, who has just died but has left a recorded message to his two best friends, Seph and Alex, asking them to visit parts of the UK from his past and spread his ashes there...obvious topic for a comedy I hear you say! Well, it was a 'melancholic comedy' (Chanya's words); it was very thought-provoking with some very funny scenes thrown around which lightened the mood and made it very realistic – we do laugh at almost any situation. Dan's recording – played at each 'spreading' point - was as much a message to the two women to sort out their lives as is was about his own life, but gave us the chance to see a lot about all three of their lives.
The narrative was judged really well, keeping us moving forward and gripped to see where Dan was taking us and there were some beautiful scenes along the way (finishing around Ben Lomond; stunning). There were stars aplenty too (another reason the film was so good to be fair – many first time directors have to use amateur actors) with Laura Carmichael and Chloe Pirrie taking the main roles.
The second film – 'Adult Life Skills' – was very different. Director Rachel Tunnard based this one on the problems a very nearly 30 year old Anna goes through coming to terms with the death of her twin brother, but the result was an quirky, almost surreal comedy. Anna, living in a memory-filled shed in her mother's garden ('I needed the space'), making films of her thumbs talking to each other as their 'spacecraft' is crashing into the sun (you do need to see it to understand!). Her life is a mess until she comes across Clint, a small boy dressed as a cowboy whose mother is dying and has an uncanny knack of coming out with adult truths...
The plot here was harder to grasp: we are left to work out that her brother is dead – he comes and goes in the film dressed in diving gear – and her work and (lack of) love life threads in and out all the while. The wacky humour again kept us laughing out loud, and, again, the acting was superb from Jodie Whittaker as Anna, Lorraine Ashbourne as her Mum, right through to Ozzy Myers as the eight year old Clint.
It is incredibly difficult for new directors to get the backing to make a first film; they are usually stuck with the Catch-22 of 'with no star, they can't attract any money; with no money, they can't attract a star'. This makes most of them produce their own films (as did Chanya Button) or they get lucky and know actors in the first place (as did both Chanya and Rachel here). What it doesn't mean is that their films aren't worth watching: both these films were well made, funny, well written and definitely worth watching!
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