Rachel Tunnard’s feature debut, Adult Life Skills, showcases an impressive performance from Doctor Who star Jodie Whittaker.
We’re introduced to the stubborn Anna (Jodie Whitaker), shy of her 30th birthday, and living in her mother’s garden shed. Shed puns! I suppose the shed is better than living in the basement. Anyway, she makes videos starring her thumbs. Whatever makes you happy, I guess. She doesn’t make these videos for anyone else but herself. We quickly learn that her mother gives her a week to move out of the shed by the time Anna’s birthday arrives. This may be easier said than done but it forces Anna to make some tough life decisions. Anna’s mom isn’t a fan of how Anna dresses or wears her hair. Honestly, she’s just not a fan of Anna’s life choices. Mothers and daughters bicker quite constantly–this film is no exception.
You see, Anna comes from a pair of twins. Unfortunately, her twin brother passed away some time before. This doesn’t stop her from grieving and manifesting his presence throughout her regular routine. I wasn’t familiar with the concept of Twin Loss before viewing the film so if writer-director Rachel Tunnard wanted to educate viewers, she did the job quite well. One cannot help but feel Anna’s pain in going through life without her twin brother.
Between school friend Fiona (Rachael Deering) visiting her, a kid, Clint (Ozzy Myers), obsessed with westerns, and real estate agent Brendan (Brett Goldstein) hitting on her, Anna is in quite the pickle! With everything going on–including bonding with Clint–it forces Anna to come out of her shed–I mean, shell.
In watching Jodie Whittaker’s performance in Adult Life Skills, one starts to understand why she was chosen for Doctor Who. To put it so simply, the actress is remarkable. Not only was the role written for Whittaker but she was pregnant during the entire production. When it comes to indie films, there are not many options in this situation. Rather than delay or recast, writer-director Rachel Tunnard pushed through before Whittaker started to show. To their credit, it’s a solid performance.
What is surprising is that the film is coming out some three years following the world premiere at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival. The 96-minute film premiered in the Viewpoints program and was awarded the Nora Ephron Prize by jury members Rachael Leigh Cook, Judy Greer, and Mary Stuart Masterson. In any event, it’s a well-written script from Rachel Tunnard. She bases quite a bit of the film on her own experiences. When one is writing a film with friends in mind, it’s always best to play to their talents. This is exactly what Tunnard does as her script takes full advantage of the real-life friendship between Whittaker and Deering.
DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Rachel Tunnard
CAST: Jodie Whittaker, Lorraine Ashbourne, Brett Goldstein, Rachael Deering, Eileen Davies, Alice Lowe, Edward Hogg, and introducing Ozzy Myers
Screen Media opens Adult Life Skills in select theaters and VOD on January 18, 2019. Grade 4/5.
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