‘Adult Life Skills’ Review: In a Shed, and Out of Time

By the time I had finished watching the aggressively whimsical British comedy “Adult Life Skills,” my eyes had rolled so far back in my head I could barely focus. It wasn’t simply the excruciatingly twee musical choices, or the well-worn trajectory of a plot as contrived as its woolly-hatted heroine. It was the realization that stories about adults trapped in the aspic of adolescence are not disappearing from the movies any time soon.

Here, mounting aggravations are all the more galling in light of the talent on screen. Jodie Whittaker (currently having a blast as the latest incarnation of Doctor Who) is Anna, almost 30 and all the way depressed. Holed up in a shed at the bottom of her Mum’s garden, she dries her underwear in the microwave and makes goofy videos using her thumbs as actors. Like a toddler, she is comfortable relieving herself outdoors.

“You look like a homeless teenager,” Mum (the great Lorraine Ashbourne) says, giving notice to vacate the shed by her 30th birthday. The mopey Anna, though, is of course harboring a secret sadness, one that makes her rebuff the ungainly advances of Brendan (Brett Goldstein), a real estate agent who woos her with misshapen vegetables and inappropriate remarks. He virtually has a label on his head reading “indie-movie soul mate.”

Written and directed by Rachel Tunnard, “Adult Life Skills” is based in part on her personal experiences. (She also lived in a shed for a spell and made thumb videos.) But Anna feels more like a device than a person, a collection of eccentric behaviors (her job involves counting molehills) that support an aesthetic of excessive cuteness. Will she escape the shed and seize a life before her birthday? The suspense almost killed me.

Adult Life Skills

Movie data powered by IMDb.com

Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 36 minutes.

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