Living in a shed at the bottom of her mum’s garden 29-year-old Anna has given up on life. The relatively recent passing of her twin brother has sent her spiralling over her edge, and she splits her time between working at a local activities centre for kids and making funny videos reflecting on existence starring her thumbs. That is until eight-year-old Clint comes into the picture, a remarkable kid whose mum is dying from cancer.
The debut film from writer-director Rachel Tunnard, Adult Life Skills deals with some tough issues. Its central characters are people that are cut adrift from the world. The death or illness of a loved one has left them broken and unsure of where to go next and yet while doing with that incredibly complicated issue it also manages to be delightful and at times laugh out loud funny.
A big part of which is down to the remarkable performance of first-timer Ozzy Myers as Clint. He’s a serious child with a lot on his shoulders who you simultaneously want to hug and scream at in frustration. When he clings to Anna – saying that when he grows up, he wants to be sad and angry like her – you want them to help each other, even as she pushes him away.
Which brings us to Jodie Whittaker, who this film lives and dies on. Anna has the potential to be infuriating. Her mother (played by Lorraine Ashbourne) is desperate for her to come out of her self-imposed exile, get a proper haircut, a flat and a boyfriend and it is easy to side with her. However, Whittaker’s subtle performance means you never get fed up of Anna even as she says some pretty horrible things. She’s a character that is blatantly terrified of the thought of having to get on with her life without her brother that you just want to help her. You want her mother to wrap her arms around her and tell her everything’s going to be okay.
There’s also a scene-stealing turn from Eileen Davies as Anna’s horny grandmother who gleefully makes everyone around her uncomfortable with her talk of women wanting a man to throw her around the bedroom. While Brett Goldstein is a tender presence as Brendan, Anna’s unsuited love interest.
Adult Life Skills is one of those films that I want to scream from the rooftops about. Both heartbreaking and hilarious it is the kind of movie that should be made, and you should all go and see it because in doing so, you make sure that these filmmakers get the chance to keep making them.