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Theatre director Bill Buckhurst makes his film debut with this semi-gritty portrait of teenagers on a dead-end estate in mid-90s Yorkshire. It’s a drama in the socially conscious tradition of Ken Loach, with echoes of Shane Meadows’s bantering mates and a dollop of Stand By Me nostalgia; it’s sometimes very funny about friendship and growing pains, though often awkward and unconvincing. I found it hard to get beyond the imitation feel – moments here seem lifted from dozens of films you’ve already seen.
There are strong performances from the young actors. Tom Varey is saintly Trevor, the oldest of the group, who is in his 20s. He’s lined up a warehouse job in town, but before he moves out of his dad’s, he is planning a night-time fishing trip to catch a whopping 20lb carp said to live in a nearby pond. Rising star Angus Imrie does a mean Spud-from-Trainspotting as lanky space cadet Malcolm. Samantha Morton’s daughter Esme Creed-Miles is Pogo, a damaged child-like teenager who adores Trevor.
Creed-Miles does her best with the role, giving an unselfconscious performance, but the character is troubling. Halfway through, something terrible from Pogo’s past is revealed, but it’s unclear whether she’s exhibiting symptoms of severe trauma or mild learning difficulties – or both. Her quirkiness – she carries a tape recorder everywhere and wears a retro red anorak – feels simplistic. And, like all the really big stuff, this event happened before the movie, which makes Pond Life a bit of an uneventful slog.
There is some affectionate gentle comedy. One boy is told that fishermen wear women’s tights to keep warm, but his mum only has stockings to lend him, leading to a couple of nice scenes. That said, a quiz-night compere mispronouncing the French word fromage hits the wrong note, coming across as laughing-at-them ungenerous.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Pond Life review – affectionate coming-of-age comedy | Film