“It was to be no ordinary summer, for an adventure was about to begin…”
So A Dozen Summers begins, with the soothing dulcet tones of a voiceover from former Time Lord, Colin Baker. He narrates the tale of an extraordinary summer for two young children we meet only momentarily. For twin sisters Maisie (Scarlet Hall) and Daisy (Hero Hall) have other ideas, hijacking the disembodied voiceover, whose lens we witness the film through. What begins with a purposefully formulaic set up quickly switches tracks and we’re set off on a journey of family ties, friendship, love and coming of age, as Maisie and Daisy twist, shape and edit the world around them with a click of their fingers. The voiceover, you see, is not for our benefit as an audience, but rather a plot device to allow the two young girls to edit the film of their lives.
It’s a wonderfully creative turn that allows the girls to stretch their imaginations, bringing werewolves, vampires, flashbacks and tangents, including one exceptionally funny scene which transports proceedings into a costume drama. An entire film based on an extended version of just that scene alone would’ve been more than welcome.
Drilling down to the core of the story, it’s a rather straight forward tale, but it’s all executed with such wit and imagination that it’s easy to get swept along in the short but sweet yarn. Scarlet and Hero Hall perform with an admirable confidence in their lead roles, and one or two flatter scenes are easily forgiven by the the charm they bring to proceedings. Sure there are a couple of mixed performances often associated with young actors, but also a handful of genuinely nuanced moments and accomplished turns as well; in particular the girl’s in love and out of luck friend Samuel, played by David Knight (Doctors).
Meanwhile director Kenton Hall flexes his acting muscles successfully as the girl’s “Dad times 10”, single parent extraordinaire Henry, with Sarah Warren taking up the role of his ex-wife Jacqueline, both sweet additions to the girl’s journey. As Henry reminds himself at one point, it’s not his film, but he, in particular, certainly provides a warming presence throughout. And warmth is the key word for A Dozen Summers, as it has a whole lot of it on display.
Whilst a suspension of disbelief is required, both on the audience’s part and the part of the characters, the set up is strong enough to make it work convincingly. To its credit the film doesn’t pander to it’s audience, it simply cuts to the chase and asks you to believe that the extraordinary is possible.
The odd minor technical issues reveal the minimalistic independent budget on occasion, but for the most part A Dozen Summers brings a well put together, engaging take on childhood, literally shaped by its characters. As the tagline for the film says, “It’s their movie. You’re just paying for the tickets”. I’m more than happy to do so, I’m sure you will be too.
A sweet family film, filled with warmth and imagination, A Dozen Summers is a great alternative to the blockbuster bluster.
Rating (out of 5):
A Dozen Summers is available on DVD now! Be sure to track it down, and check out the official website here.