Wednesday, 17 March 2010

The Scouting Book For Boys (The List, Issue 652)

One hazy summer in a sleepy Norfolk holiday park, David (This is England’s Thomas Turgoose) and Emily (Holliday Grainger), constant companions by default of being the only teenagers there, spend the days mucking about under the permissive gaze of site security guard Steve (Rafe Spall), who is Emily’s mum’s boyfriend and the only adult who pays them much attention. This relative idyll is punctured by the news that Emily must move away and live with her dad. Besotted, David goes along with Emily’s suggestion to hide her in one of the beach’s many caves, and plays innocent as the police get involved and her disappearance becomes a local media story. David believes he is Emily’s only friend and confidant, but soon learns that there is more than their friendship behind her plan.

British TV director Tom Harper (Misfits, Demons) makes a confident feature debut with this engaging story that slowly twists from a light-hearted evocation of teenage friendship into a dark tale of adolescent envy. Harper directs Jack Horne’s fine script with just the right amount of ambiguity, creating very believable characters in the process. David doesn’t sit easily in a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ category, and Turgoose makes the most of his sparse dialogue to construct a complex character through small but significant actions and reactions. It’s an excellent performance, and Grainger and Spall add strong support.

The film is not perfect; there are some jarring shifts in tone and the story’s ultimate destination stretches credibility, but as a dramatisation of the peril and confusion of adolescence it’s worth checking out.


On selected release from Fri 19 Mar, cert. 15.
This review first published in The List magazine.

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