Opening at selected UK cinemas today, microbudget indie comedy “A Dozen Summers” offers a quirky, sweet and ambitiously off-the-wall coming of age story of two 12 year old girls, Maisie (Scarlett Hall) and Daisy McCormack (Hero Hall) who hijack a passing film crew and use the tools and tricks of cinema to explore and make sense of the trials and tribulations of tweenage life.
Written, directed by and co-starring Kenton Hall – real life father of the leads – the script is peppered with pithy observations on the absurdity and trivia of everyday life and offers some genuine insight into the internal lives of the youngsters and the familial connection shines through in the scenes between Kenton and his daughters, imbuing them with a warmth and authenticity which keeps the film grounded. The strong and genuine family core allow the rest of the film to indulge flights of fancy, wish fulfilment, Walter Mitty-esque dream sequences and some great movie homages – there’s even a couple of post credits stingers.
The largely novice cast is bolstered by some more experienced actors, including Ewen MacIntosh (best known as Keith from UK sitcom “The Office”) and a knowingly clichéd narration from the great Colin Baker. With low budget independent films, you need to make some allowances in terms of the quality of performances and the technical execution and “A Dozen Summers” is no different in that its reach occasionally exceeds its grasp. However the two leads never deliver anything less than an endearing performance; self-conscious at times, yes, but sweetly earnest too.
In the best possible way, it feels like a film made for 12 year olds by 12 year olds and approaches the things that matter to them with an unjaded honesty and transparency about the darkness and awareness we’ve allowed to encroach on the sunset of childhood.
Quirky, refreshingly low-fi and reminiscent of the kid-centric suburban tales that used to be made by the Children’s Film Foundation in the seventies and eighties, “A Dozen Summers” is gentle, intelligent family entertainment which talks to rather than down to its target audience.