Now, this post may be titled review but here’s a little secret, it should really be called: “Why We Need More Films Like Adult Life Skills”, so if you’re interested, stick around and I’ll tell you why. Written and directed by Rachel Tunnard, starring Jodie Whittaker as a 29 and soon to the be 30, year old who lives in a shed at the bottom of her Mum’s garden and spends her free time making videos with her thumbs as the lead characters. Also starring: Lorraine Ashburne, Brett Goldstein, Rachael Deering, Eileen Davies, Ozzy Myers and Alice Lowe.
With the film being recently released in the US, it’s had time to delight Americans with our British whimsy…or make them realise that a lot of us are just lovable weirdos but now it’s the UK’s turn to really appreciate this gem as it makes its first appearance on Netflix. Adult Life Skills starts with Jodie Whittaker‘s Anna making one of her infamous videos, it’s sweet, funny and an utterly wholesome way to begin, moving on to our leading lady bursting into the bathroom while her grandmother is in the shower, who then threatens to pull back the shower curtain if Anna doesn’t leave immediately, is just one of many examples of the fantastic humour that runs all throughout the film, including Alice Lowe‘s “Sometimes I wish the Sufragettes hadn’t bothered” when faced with a not so pleasant task.
Humour runs rampant through the heart of the film but alongside that is bereavement and how we deal with loss, that it can stop us in our tracks until we can finally learn how to handle it and move forward. In Anna’s case, that loss is her twin brother and fellow thumb-filmmaker, the Laurel to her Hardy and the Bert to her Ernie. Whittaker’s Anna is immediately relatable, clumsy, unorganised, sarcastic and carefree while riddled with sadness. Her determination to remain in a childlike state to hold on to the memories of her twin brother immediately makes you want to protect her and Whittaker is the perfect choice to be undeniably sympathetic, especially while her mother relentlessly tries to force her to make a life for herself. Whittaker’s commitment to the film is only more amplified by the fact that she also took on an exec-producer role.
This film will make you laugh and cry in a perfect ratio of the two, yes your heart will be broken but it’s ready to put it back together again. The ultimate compliment that you can give is that it’s the Paddington of 15-rated films, it’s simply an enjoyable experience all round and downright British. Tunnard has made a film that can definitively break your heart while making you laugh. Whittaker’s performance is flawless but she’s also supported by a fantastic cast, on top of Alice Lowe (not literally), you have Lorraine Ashbourne, Brett Goldstein and Eileen Davies, who all provide something different to the film but all equally lovely.
Adult Life Skills is heartwarming to its core and entirely creative to boot, it’s a sad state of affairs that it’s rare to come across a film so original and individual. Yes, the film tackles themes which are universal and have been widely covered but that’s what makes it all the more impressive, it takes a much traveled road but gets from point a to point b in a hilarious, touching, imaginative way. It’s not certain what’s up next for Tunnard, who not only wrote and directed the film but also edited it, but she’s definitely one to watch.