Adult Life Skills – Review

As a woman in her mid-twenties, there have been many moments in my life where I’ve been in a room with other adults and wondered: How did I end up being an adult? Have I really grown up? This occurs at film screenings when networking with other film professionals, when dealing with decisions at my day job and when trying to sort bills and rent. As a child adults seemed to tell me that when I grow up I’ll have things figured out yet I still get these moments where I look at myself and barely recognize the fully grown adult staring back at me. The act of moving forward into adulthood doesn’t magically make things secure. This is something that is explored in a film based on a BAFTA nominated short film: Adult Life Skills.

Written and directed by Rachel Tunnard, Adult Life Skills tells the story of 29 year old Anna (played by Jodie Whittaker) whose a week away from turning 30. She works in a job she doesn’t enjoy, lives in her mother’s shed at the end of the garden and makes videos with her thumbs that she doesn’t share with anyone. Her mother (played by Lorraine Ashbourne) issues an ultinatum: move out by her 30th birthday. The film follows this week where she is awkwardly seduced by the local estate agent (played by Brett Goldstein), works her dead-end job and ends up coming across a lost 8 year old boy seeking her companionship much to her bewilderment. In the midst of this she’s trying to move forward from her grief over losing her twin brother sometime before.

This story is very driven by the development of the characters rather than the plot. Anna doesn’t go on some epic quest to discover the key to her late entry into adulthood. The audience simply views a formative week in her life that leads her down a path that alters the course of her life. It’s simplistic and certainly unconventional but it’s pulled off very well. Anna isn’t a blank slate of a character – she’s a three dimensional character who is a challenging but relatable protagonist. Whittaker plays her beautifully effortlessly going between joking about Yogi Bear being a bit of a nihilist one moment to despairing over any potential removal of traces of her deceased twin. The audience instantly wants to root for her within a few moments of her being on screen. It’s down to not only a great performance but consistent writing and directing.

The film itself is, in many ways, a Northern film seeing as it was filmed in Huddersfield and set in an unknown/fictional Northern town however it can be argued that this film is an all-round British film. It has just about everything most everyday British people can relate to: a home town that seems so small that one yearns to escape, self-deprecating characters with a pretty astounding sense of self-awareness and intelligent humour with enjoyably obscure references. This is something that is a result of not only a script written well but of great directing, evocative cinematography accompanied by a natural look in the use of lighting, perfect locations, superb editing – every part of the film making process works really well together to bring a cohesive and solid film.

This is a film that all fellow character film lovers will enjoy. It’s the kind of film every person in their mid to late twenties who may be scared that they’re alone in not being able to “adult” properly should sit down to see.


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