Drama films

Pond Life review – loving coming-of-age comedy | Drama films

THeatre director Bill Buckhurst makes his film debut with this semi-gritty portrayal of teenagers in a dead end estate in mid-90s Yorkshire. It’s a drama in the socially conscious lore of Ken Loach, with echoes of Shane Meadows’ playful buddies and a dollop of Support me nostalgia; it’s sometimes very funny about friendship and growing pains, although often awkward and unconvincing. I struggled to get past the imitation feel – the moments here seem like they’re taken from dozens of movies you’ve seen before.

There are strong performances from young actors. Tom Varey is Saint Trevor, the oldest of the group, in his twenties. He’s scheduled a job in a warehouse in town, but before he leaves his father’s, he plans an overnight fishing trip to catch a huge 20-pound carp that is believed to be living in a nearby pond. Rising star Angus Imrie does a nasty Spud-from-Trainspotting as gangly space caddy Malcolm. Samantha Morton’s daughter, Esme Creed-Miles, is Pogo, an injured child-like teenager who adores Trevor.

Creed-Miles does his best with the role, giving an unconscious performance, but the character is unsettling. Halfway, something terrible from Pogo’s past is revealed, but it’s unclear whether she is showing symptoms of severe trauma or mild learning difficulties – or both. Her eccentricity – she carries a tape recorder everywhere and wears a retro red anorak – seems simplistic. And, like all really important things, this event happened before the movie, which makes Pond Life a somewhat uneventful task.

There is a sweet and loving comedy. A boy is told that fishermen wear ladies’ tights to keep warm, but his mom only has stockings to lend him, resulting in some nice scenes. Having said that, a quiz night to mispronounce the French word cheese hits the wrong note, seeming to mock them without generosity.