A Dozen Summers is the true to life story of twin 12 years old sisters played by Hero & Scarlet Hall; daughters of the director Kenton Hall. It’s a meta look at life as an adolescent; bridging the gap between primary school and adult life.
The film opens with an intentionally cliche voiceover, from Time Lord Colin Baker, that promotes the importance of stories to life. It is quickly interrupted by our two leads Maisie & Daisy McCormack who take control (literally) of the film. After a risible discussion about what genre of film to make they settle on sticking with what they know; hence they make a film about their lives. The pair live with their father Henry an eccentric author divorced from their mother. That’s just one of the adult issues that are challenged by the film through the guise of two 12 year olds. It balances the adult issues with a candid look at life at 12 years old; we deal with teachers, bullies, crushes, cycling everywhere, words you barely understand yet and only being allowed into a shop with 1 friend. The film benefits from being down-to-earth; it allows a truly realistic representation.
Written by Kenton and working with his daughters the dad dialogue is on point. The relationship between father and daughters is completely believable and heart-warming. While the quality of acting fluctuates, no one could be ssaid to have given a wooden performance. Everyone filled their character’s with honest performances that brought them to life, an often unappreciated quality- realistic characters can be the hardest to perform.
Using its meta guise the film takes many opportunities to poke fun at classic movie tropes and allows for breaks in the narrative for skits that play out like a child’s imagination. There’s not much in the way of plot but what the film does do is use recognisable situations with a comedic upending, that move the story along efficiently.
Kenton Hall has created a film that has a good understanding of life at 12 years old and the lack of understanding about the adult world that plays with self reverence, heart and comedy.