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The Scouting Book For Boys review

Two young friends have it tough in this bleak English drama

A promising young writer/director team show signs of strain on their feature debut, juggling too many flavours at once.

Directed by TV’s Tom Harper from Skins scribe Jack Thorne’s script, this choppy tale of love’s young nightmare centres on shy David (This Is England’s Thomas Turgoose) and brassy Emily (Holly Grainger), chalk-and-cheese chums living in a Norfolk caravan park.

When Emily’s perma-sozzled mum (Susan Lynch) loses custody of her daughter to the girl’s dad, Emily hides herself away, with only David privy to her secret location – and hurt by the discovery of her involvement with an older man (Rafe Spall).

Turgoose tries hard with a one-note role, but he looks lost in the film’s muddle of youthful idyll, maudlin realism and sub-Mike Leigh grotesques (Lynch channels essence of Amy Winehouse; Spall resembles a bad Paddy Considine parody).

As incoherence mounts, a nasty twist feels desperately forced in, leaving a sour taste.

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