MY TOP TWENTY FILMS OF ALL TIME. #18: THE SCOUTING BOOK FOR BOYS

Thomas Turgoose was only 14 when his big-break came in the British movie This Is England. He played a young skinhead who is accepted into a group of older peers which eventually splits into two groups with one become a nationalist group which greatly explored themes of racism in 80’s Britain. From this, he then went on to star in The Scouting Book For Boys in 2008 (released late 2009/early 2010 around the world), this drama about two teenage friends (Thomas Turgoose’s David and Holliday Grainger’s Emily) who live on a caravan park in Norfolk. The story begins by exploring their deep friendship and seeing them have the usual teenage fun you expect. Go running, have a laugh, wind up neighbours, etc. They also have fun with a security guard called Steve (Rafe Spall) who though older than them, seems to enjoy their company. One day, their happiness is broken by the news that Emily will have to move away to live with her father. So, to avoid them being separated, a plan is hatched.

While David is questioned by the police and Emily’s family as to where she has disappeared, he states he doesn’t know where she has gone. Later, he goes to a cave near they’re caravan park where she is hiding. The film starts off fun, quirky and uplifting. Though after the first act, the tone does begin to change. A manhunt is on to find Emily, stories start to come out about Emily and Steve and David realises that his feelings for Emily are actually growing beyond friendship and into affection. After some time, the pressure mounts on David from everyone around him. Steve is obsessed with finding Emily and seems to be holding back a secret. Emily reveals a few secrets to David which upsets and him and makes him more possessive as the time ticks on. The last 20 minutes become really dark as David does all he can to keep Emily from escaping and though he doesn’t want to hurt his friend, he goes to great lengths to keep her. In the end, a conclusion which will bring tears to your eyes as the story keeps a very bitter ending.

The performances in this film are all brilliant. You can’t help but feel for Thomas Turgoose as his character David does all he can to keep Emily with him, even when the scenes are a bit more serious. Director Tom Harper knows his angles and shots well, he captures a sense of emotion in every shot. Jack Thorne has a script which has no teenage stereotypes that you may expect to see and the strength is the development of the two leads over the course of the film. Also Holliday Grainger plays her part well as Emily tries to be free of her parental constraints and also keep those she cares about close to her. Also, the music is done really well. The soundtrack features five songs from Noah and the Whale, the song at the end may be a bit upsetting when you really start to listen to the lyrics. Overall, this is a dramatic film which is simple, edgy and represents a high point in British cinema.

Written by Jonjo Cosgrove.

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