The Scouting Book for Boys (2009) starring Thomas Turgoose, Holliday Grainger, Rafe Spall, Susan Lynch, Steven Mackintosh, Tony Maudsley, Ewen MacIntosh directed by Tom Harper Movie Review

The Scouting Book for Boys (2009)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Thomas Turgoose as David in The Scouting Book for Boys (2009)

Turgoose's Love of Holliday

For me her name was Sam, she was the girl I was best friends with as a young teen who I secretly loved and could picture one day marrying but she broke my heart when she started dating. It's a familiar story of growing up and it is the basis of "The Scouting Book for Boys" which sees the impressive Thomas Turgoose as David who has those same feelings for Emily, his best friend on the caravan park they live on. But whilst "The Scouting Book for Boys" starts with this element of teenage friendship it builds on this covering aspects of naivety and heartbreak but then also bringing in a darker, almost horror like storyline which has a touch of "Misery" to it.

Being the only children of their age on the caravan park David (Thomas Turgoose - Eden Lake) and Emily (Holliday Grainger) have spent 6 years as best friends, closer than any brother and sister. But when Emily is told that she is to move away and live with her dad it is too much and David helps Emily hide out in a nearby cave. But it is whilst there that David finds his feelings for Emily tested as he discovers the truth as to why she desperately doesn't want to move and he also sees how her running away affects those on the park as the Police step up their hunt for her.

Holliday Grainger as Emily in The Scouting Book for Boys (2009)

So "The Scouting Book for Boys" is part based on childhood and part based on fantasy and it is a mix which for me makes a nostalgic but also disturbing story. I suppose the element of nostalgia comes from if you can share the emotions of David as he has to deal with being in love with Emily whilst she only sees him as a best friend. But if you can it is real and that sense of betrayal that David feels when he discovers that Sam has been secretly seeing someone else is as painful to watch as it was when I felt it as a teen.

At the same time "The Scouting Book for Boys" also captures the naivety of youth as on one hand we have Emily who has this vision of what will happen in the future, a blissful ignorance that is untarnished by the harsh reality of life as she suggests that the older man she is seeing will stick by her whilst David will be there as well. But then on the other we have David's naivety as he rationalises with himself that they can carry on as they are, him bringing food and caring for Emily as she hides out in the cave. It is again so true to real life and between writer Jack Thorne and director Tom Harper they have done a marvellous job of recapturing elements of growing up quite brilliantly. Having said that Harper's occasional indulgence into an artsy, sun soaked close up ends up spoiling the flow.

Now this for me is the realism part but then this evolves into a darker more thriller part as David watches the results of their actions. It is David who watches how upset Emily's mother is and how everyone rallies around him after having to do a TV appeal. And as things spiral out of control with both the residents on the caravan park passing judgement on the person they suspect of kidnapping Emily but also in David's mind as he feels he is being betrayed by Emily things take a turn for the dark. I won't go into detail other than to say there is a touch of the "Misery" about the storyline as David tries to deal with what has become very complicated.

Now it has to be said that as characters go the majority of them in "The Scouting Book for Boys" are a little too caricature like and most of them are actually not that likeable be it Steven Mackintosh as the slimy detective on the case or Susan Lynch as Emily's heavy drinking mother. But then there are two performances which make it work with Holliday Grainger impressing as Emily especially getting across the naivety of how life will be, listening to her telling David what is going to happen in the future is so real and innocent. But to be honest it is the impressive Thomas Turgoose as David who is captivating because he delivers such a believable character. There is awkwardness to David but also great emotion and when the camera focuses on his face it feels so believable as David processes his thoughts and emotions and what to do next, the weight of the world on his young shoulders.

What this all boils down to is that for me "The Scouting Book for Boys" is a clever mix of teenage drama with a darker almost horror aspect with Thomas Turgoose once again showing what a great young actor he is. But I feel that unless you had a similar close friendship to the basis of the one in this movie it will be hard to appreciate what a wonderful movie it is.