Adult Life Skills

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Jodie Whittaker has been an actor to watch for some time. She is best known for playing the grieving mother in Broadchurch but she has a string of equally excellent performances on a CV that goes back ten years. She was superb opposite Peter O’Toole in her first film Venus and is great in Attack the Block. Personally I’d also recommend you search her out in Black Mirror and in Perrier’s Bounty, where she starred with Brendan Gleeson, Cillian Murphy and Jim Broadbent. She’s in St. Trinian’s too but, while this shows her comedy chops, it is less an example of her considerable skills.

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I met her once, kind of. We both did the London Marathon in 2012 and she was running with a friend. We all had the briefest conversation, at mile 15, about some guy we saw doing the route dressed as the Disney Princess Belle and whether he’d left another bloke sweating it out in a Beast suit some distance behind him. 

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As with Broadchurch, new movie Adult Life Skills has Jodie Whittaker in mourning. She plays 29 year old Anna who has recently lost her twin brother. Unable to move on with her life she lives in her Mum’s shed, a place where the siblings had made comedy videos together to post online. Now she makes new clips involving her thumbs with faces drawn on them. 

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Adult Life Skills is a simple but quite beautiful film about living with grief. In many respects it is a character study, not just of Anna but of those around her; her Mum, her Gran, her best friend, her boss, the guy that likes her and the little kid next door struggling with his own family bereavement issues. It is billed as a comedy but the humour is sweet rather than laugh out loud and on occasion the protagonist’s suffering is quite raw. 

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All of the relationships in Adult Life Skills feel very real and it is as much about connecting to people as it is losing them. The plot swings around the bond Whittaker’s Anna makes with the eight year old Clint who’s mother is dying of cancer. This is highly moving but actually it is her connection with old friend Fiona that, for me, provides the heart of the film. Fiona has been travelling, a trip that Anna was supposed to be on, and in many respects the two have grown apart. Their’s is a bond concreted in the past though and it is a nice depiction of the type of friendship where it doesn’t matter how long it is since you’ve seen each other, you pick up right where they left off. 

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Fiona is played by Rachael Deering and I was sure I had seen the actor somewhere before. A quick search of IMDb did not help as hers is a very short filmography and then I then realised that she had been the person Jodie Whittaker had been running the marathon with. The two are clearly friends and this shows on screen. 

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Adult Life Skills is a perfectly paced, perfectly pitched, low budget British movie that slowly takes hold of you so that you are surprised how gripped you are by the end. It is in select cinemas and on demand now. It’s Jodie Whittaker’s film and like everything she does, she carries it without showcasing. Like I said, one to watch.

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