Tom Harper's 2009 directing debut The Scouting Book For Boys provides a welcome relief from the usual dross that one is confronted with when looking at the films offered by the UK's multiplex cinemas (which are the only cinema films that 99% of the UK population ever get to see). Whilst Harper's film is certainly not without its flaws it makes a brave (and largely successful) attempt at providing an engaging narrative, which is rooted in the real world.
Thomas Turgoose provides another strong performance (following those he has delivered for Shane Meadows) as the central character David who embarks on an ambitious ploy in an attempt to prevent his best friend Emily (well played by Holliday Grainger in one of her first major film roles) being forced to leave the caravan park they both inhabit. The two central characters are well supported by Susan Lynch, who is typically superb as Emily's hysterical mother Sharon, Rafe Spall as the object of Emily's growing infatuation and Steven Mackintosh as the local police officer.
Harper's direction is remarkably assured given his lack of big screen experience and he creates a light, almost wistful, atmosphere in the early stages of the film which bely the subsequent, darker plot twists.
For such an assured film debut it was a travesty that the film received such a limited cinema distribution. I hope that Harper does not feel that he has to compromise his film choices in order to secure wider distribution - a dilemma faced by many of the most promising British film-makers such as Eran Creevy, Peter Mullan, Jamie Thraves, Richard Jobson and Peter Strickland.