2016 – UK
Director: Rachel Tunnard
Starring: Jodie Whittaker, Brett Goldstein, Eileen Davies, Ozzy Myers, Lorraine Ashbourne
Words: J. Senior
To say that I went from knowing absolutely nothing about Adult Life Skills – to falling head over heels in love with it, is something of an understatement. Eileen Davies who stars in the film (and amongst many other roles has appeared in Sightseers and High Rise) told me about the film and arranged an event at the cinema that I manage with herself and the film’s director Rachel Tunnard. During this I managed to get really close to the film by mixing with the people who had worked so hard to bring it to screen. It’s impressive origins make it one of the best films of 2016 alone. However, it has gone on to win to BIFA Awards this year, for Debut Screenwriter for Rachel and for Best Supporting Actor for Brett Goldstein, and as it’s a film that was largely thought up and devised by people from Sheffield, it was an absolute no-brainer for our end of year list.
The film follows Anna, who is quickly approaching thirty and is living at the bottom of her Mum’s garden in a shed. She makes short films, using her thumbs for characters and is for all intents and purposes, merely floating through life. As the narrative continues Anna is coaxed from her shell by friends, a love interest and a young boy called Clint who is coping with is own emotional turmoils. Each of these relationships opens Anna up and exposes her vulnerability, and we eventually discover the reasons behind her self imposed shed bound exile.
At the heart of the film is a very serious message about grief and abandonment but this aspect is approached with a razor sharp wit, and keen eye for comedy. You can be laughing hysterically one moment and then crying the next. It’s a really joyous film to be shared with an audience.
I personally got to dig deeper into aspects and stories within the film by speaking with Rachel (and also having a long chat with Rachel’s Dad about football and Sheffield United), stories such as the mission it took to attain the copyright to use a Whitesnake song over the closing credits… If you have seen the film, you’ll know how perfect the song choice was.
My overarching experience though was really just one of gratitude, I felt really privileged to be able to experience something that was made in the city I love, by people who shared my passion for film. Rachel was an Editor for many years before transitioning into writing and directing, but watching the film you would never have guessed it wasn’t made by a seasoned professional. I can’t wait to see what she works on next. Adult Life Skills is really just an exquisitely honest film about real life trials and tribulations, and the best thing I have seen all year. Watch it as soon as you can, it really is that good.