Adult Life Skills
Chipped, yellow bumble-bee nail polish is the least of Anna’s (Jodie Whittaker) concerns: she is too busy using her thumbs as finger puppets in a sci-fi video. The “for-her-eyes-only” disaster movie is the sole thing she can focus on in Rachel Tunnard’s moving feature film debut Adult Life Skills.
Anna’s distraction is multifacted. Her 30th birthday is approaching and she will be celebrating it without her twin brother, Billy (Edward Hogg), killed in an accident a few months earlier. Since his death, she has been living in the shack on her mother Marion’s (Lorraine Ashbourne) property containing her brother’s belongings and their shared memories. Marion gives Anna a week to move out and get on with her life, her tough-love stance coinciding with another neighborhood tragedy: Clint (Ozzy Myers), whom Anna knows from boating classes at her Lake District parks and recreation job, is about to lose his mother to cancer. Anna half-heartedly connects with the friendless, angry boy, leading to a whole new set of problems.
A film with a bigger budget and/or studio backing would most likely lack Adult Life Skills’ avoidance of providing solid answers in depicting and dealing with the grief process – as in life, there is no right or wrong way. Though Anna’s mourning comes across as spontaneously unscripted, the film is cohesive. Billy’s accident is revealed in fragments, like his sister’s distracted concentration. Anna’s best friend Fiona (Rachael Deering) and would-be boyfriend Brendan (Brett Goldstein) never say or do the right thing. Here, Whitesnake provides the more appropriate soundtrack than a sappy specially-written song.
Previously Beth Lorimer, Broadchurch’s mother of a murdered child and wife to a loser husband, Jodie Whittaker is no stranger to distress and high emotion. While her television role and series are exceptional, her Anna is rooted in real emotion. It is a quietly devastating, lovely performance. The rest of the cast, particularly Eileen Davies as Anna’s compassionate, horny grandmother and young Ozzy Myers, are equally believable and unforced.
Rachel Tunnard’s film is an expanded version of her BAFTA-nominated short Emotional Fusebox, which will hopefully be included in the future DVD package. Before that happens, Adult Life Skills deserves to be seen by a wide audience, many of whom will relate to its premise and heroine.
Adult Life Skills does not have a UK release date yet.
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For further information about the Tribeca Film Festival 2016 visit here.