So, I was asked to review an ‘indie film’ called, A Dozen Summers, due for U.K cinematic release on 21st August 2015. Given my love of both psychoanalyzing and watching kids films I decided to give it a whirl.
A Dozen Summers is described as a ‘being-of-age’ comedy, written and directed by Kenton Hall. It tells the story of Maisie (Scarlet Hall) and Daisy (Hero Hall), telling the story of Maisie and Daisy… In less jarring terms, The Narrator (Colin Baker) is in the middle of narrating (naturally) when the two precocious twins hijack the movie (and suggest he might be being a bit of a nonse for filming kids, which did provoke a smirk).
ADS attempts to show what it is really like to be 12 years old. I personally can’t remember being 12 years old but I know I wouldn’t ever want to be 12 years old again any time soon. This film reminded me that I am happy being 24, something I never thought I would think, because so far it’s been pretty naff. Thanks for that, Kenton.
The concept of childhood is shaped by society and is not easy to define, so whenever films claim to capture the ‘essence’ of what it is like to be a child or a specific age, I often find it is already off to a bad start . I am hard to please, being a self confessed psychoanalyzing children’s film nutter, so don’t be surprised if me and Zipes beat the Bettelheim out of it while Melanie Klein swings from the rafters.
On the contrary to to bad starts, A Dozen Summers didn’t start badly. Get down from there Melanie, you aren’t needed!
The clever opening scene plunges you straight into what A Dozen Summers does best; breaking the fourth wall and being delightfully meta. There is also a playful element of fantasy within the reality that gives the overarching idea of another dimension, this can be confusing at times but luckily Hall has anticipated this and found ways of adding reminders into the dialogue.
This resulted in the movie being like Tracy Beaker meets Adaptation – meta and fantasy skits are its lifeblood.
There are typical moments of childhood innocence, childhood bullying and childhood scenarios that have clearly been written with a comedic tone, however, sometimes the timing or the acting made the comedy less fluid and I found myself having to meet ADS halfway. I struggled with identifying what the movie was trying to tell me, as it does drag at times between plot developments and I felt some scenes lingered for too long.
Whether on purpose or by a happy accident, the message isn’t hidden in subtext throughout like most, but kicks you in the guts when it suddenly appears in a surprisingly emotional final scene. All the silliness and jabberboxing of the movie become commonplace until Hall throws the plot back into reality, the stark contrast between the final scene and the rest of the movie was a daring move, but it payed off.
Everyone will interpret it differently but I believe Hall is trying to combat exactly what I opened this blog post with: I don’t remember being 12, I do however, remember being 15. It is one of those ages that we take for granted. It is our last year of being a child and most of us wish it away so we can be the ever coveted teenager. Hall is telling us to stop and remember, stop and appreciate, stop and listen.
A Dozen Summers isn’t the perfect movie, it does have some minor issues. For a first movie, Hall has managed to develop a refreshing concept that puts one in mind of when Wes Craven’s New Nightmare prepared us for the masterpiece of Scream. I have absolutely no doubt that whatever faults this movie may have, they will be tweaked and perfected in round two. I will look forward to what the future holds with great interest.