The Scouting Book for Boys is a solid Directorial debut film from Tom Harper and showcases what the wonderful British film industry is willing to support get made. Starring the excellent young talents of Thomas Turgoose of This is England fame and Holly Grainger who starred in the TV series Demons and Waterloo Road, these two young actors are the main reason to see this dark and gritty film but unfortunately it’s let down by its supporting cast, which is a real shame.
Living all year round at a caravan park on the Norfolk coast, two young inseparable teenagers David (Turgoose) and Emily (Grainger) spend their summer days indulging in games and pranks together as teenagers only do to past the monotony of repetitive days stuck in other peoples idea of a holiday destination.
It comes as heart breaking shock to them both when Emily is told she is to be sent away to live with her father as her mother is incapable of caring for her which sets in motion the events that lead to a bleak harsh gritty second half of the film. David and Emily concoct a plan to hide her in a cave on the seafront so she never has to leave, David does this due to his love for Emily but Emily has other reasons to stay as she has fallen in love with camp site security guard Steve (Ralf Spall).
The film then ventures into exploring the public hysteria and media frenzy into the search for missing children but it’s all watered down and made a mockery of by the seemingly lone policeman in charge, officer Kertzer (Steven Mackintosh) who delivers lines in such an unbelievable poor way that it took the edge of the seriousness that was happening. The residents get wind of the Security guard Steve’s involvement with the young Emily, due to planted evidence from the jealous David, and start to take matters into their own hands as David watches on keeping the secret safe as everything spirals out of control to its brilliant yet shocking conclusion.
It’s a brutally dark film with both Holly Grainger and Thomas Turgoose putting in brilliant convincing performances of teenagers unable to express their feelings or sexual urges and who are then forced to resort to desperate measures without understanding the consequences to them.
The film is well written by Skins writer Jack Thorne who slowly adds layer upon layer to the story as the dramatic tension intensifies to a climatic and almost unbearable level and with us truly bonding with the two young characters from the start with their solidly and likable written roles, so when David’s behavior changes later in the movie it hits us harder and stuns long after the closing credits, one squeamish scene in particular will leave you with a nice memory to walk away.
As previously mentioned the supporting cast offered little and disappointed throughout with Emily’s mum in particular being a bizarre creation in the image of Amy Winehouse in both look and manner that couldn’t be taken seriously and Officer Kertzer seemed comical, parodied and unbelievable when it should have been more serious, but thankfully the two young leads offer enough to make it a movie worth seeing and a great example of low budget British cinema at its best.
The Scouting Book for Boys is out 19th March.