The Scouting Book for Boys
dir Tom Harper
scr Jack Thorne
prd Christian Colson, Ivana Mackinnon
with Thomas Turgoose, Holliday Grainger, Susan Lynch, Steven Mackintosh, Rafe Spall Tony Maudsley, Nicholas Sidi, Ewen MacIntosh, Ann Elsley, Lorraine Bruce, Susan Earl, Sheena Irving
release UK 5.Mar.10
09/UK Celador 1h33
The Scouting Book for Boys
Best pals, or more? Grainger and Turgoose

lynch mackintosh spall
london film fest
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
The Scouting Book for Boys Increasingly dark and involving, this British drama tells a gripping story through the eyes of an intriguing teen. Not only is he brilliantly performed by Turgoose, but the filmmakers have important things to say without ever preaching.

David (Turgoose) is the mid-teen son of a Norfolk caravan park performer (Maudsley). To survive the boredom, he bonds perhaps too tightly with Emily (Grainger), daughter of the site's shop clerk (Lynch). As they dash across caravan roofs and hang out with security guard Steve (Spall), their life is pretty happy. But Emily's when mother decides to send her to live with her father (Sidi), David helps her hide in a seaside cave. Tension builds when a police detective (Mackintosh) starts investigating. And it gets worse when a secret is revealed.

The film starts closing in on us from the opening scene. Even as they happily lark about, we see cracks in Emily and David's lively, protective relationship as she goads him into taking risks and he replies with both bravado and insecurity. Their parents are pretty useless, leaving them to fend for themselves. And the film portrays them as genuinely normal kids; even their misdemeanours have an innocence about them.

But of course things go further than that. And the film hinges on Turgoose's performance to carry us into something progressively more bleak and desperate, at least through his eyes. With his eerily ageless face, 17-year-old Turgoose consistently delivers the goods. He's in virtually every frame of this film, which gently stretches both his physicality and his dramatic range. His scenes with Grainger are almost eerily realistic, and the adult cast must almost resort to scene-stealing to get noticed. But everyone creates vivid, honest, tricky characters.

The film itself is slightly too downbeat and offhanded to gather a mainstream audience, but more adventurous moviegoers will lock into the story, especially as things start squeezing in on David from every side. And there are some scenes that will be impossible to forget, simply because the cast and crew add so much subtext to them--the televised appeals for Emily's safety, the figurative bombshells that rock David's world, and the heartbreaking realisation of what's actually happened here.

cert 15 themes, language, some violence 25.Nov.09

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© 2009 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall