Sunday, April 17, 2016

Tribeca Film Festival 2016: Adult Life Skills

If it had bigger stars and a less quirk-dependent plot, Rachel Tunnard's Adult Life Skills would be right at home at the multiplex, probably starring someone like Kate Hudson. The romance here is relegated to comically awkward background, sparing us the trope of the hapless heroine whose messy life is all tidied up by the love of a good man, but the rest is dispiritingly predictable. Anna (Jodie Whittaker) is a kind of English Zoe Deschanel, a wide-eyed free spirit who doesn't realize how loveable she is. She lives in a shed in her mother's backyard, which she has crammed full of artsy detritus like pinwheels and homemade tinfoil rocket ships. When she's not working at a community center, she likes to draw a rudimentary face on each of her thumbs and then shoot video of them having a conversation.

But she used to do a lot more of that sort of thing with her twin brother, until he died two years earlier and she retreated into her mother's shed. Her dead brother haunts Anna, popping up periodically to offer advice. It makes sense that neither he nor their relationship ever change (he's always wearing a snorkeling mask, presumably because he died snorkeling), since he's a figment of her imagination and a symbol of how stuck she is emotionally. But it's unfortunate that Anna's mother and grandmother come to feel just as static and one-note as that apparition, as her mother clucks at Anna to move out of the shed and get on with her life while her grandmother gently urges her mother to quit nagging the poor girl.

Read the rest on The House Next Door

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