With the central character approaching thirty and spending her days making talking thumb videos in her mum’s garden shed, the theme is less coming-of-age and more coming of the aged in Rachel Tunnard’s indie oddball comedy Adult Life Skills. Anna (Jodie Whittaker) is encouraged to move out and conform to societal expectations by her mother Marion (Lorraine Ashbourne) and grandmother Jean (Eileen Davies) but flat-out refuses, still grieving from the untimely death of her twin brother. When she reunites with school friend Fiona (Rachael Deering) and finds common ground with troubled next door neighbour Clint (Ozzy Myers), she is forced to face up to her problems.
There is something quintessentially British about the look and feel of this film, and the way in which it mixes Loach-esque bleakness with witty dialogue to find humour in the saddest of places. An array of television acting talent come together in a strong cast to create a very authentic and natural community with Anna at the epicentre, struggling with loss, love and life in general. It’s not all doom and gloom and has does comedy at its heart, and the clever writing boasts the brilliant knack of making us laugh hysterically one minute and want to burst into tears the next. Jodie Whittaker is excellent in the leading role, giving a heartfelt and weighty portrayal of a character it’s hard not to instantly like and root for throughout.
With a background lying mainly in the editing of comedy shorts, Adult Life Skills marks a stunning debut from writer and director Rachel Tunnard, tactfully exploring very difficult subject matter with a peppering of well placed 80s pop culture references. Packing an emotional punch and a top-drawer performance from Whittaker, it highlights the importance of support from family and friends through hard times, and does so with intelligence and aplomb.