The Scouting Book For Boys Review: Running Wild
Childhood was a wonderful place for me, full of water balloon fights, bike rides and scraped knees. Perhaps that’s just the rose-tinted specs of nostalgia but I remember not wanting it to end.
The Scouting Book For Boys takes us back to that place but unlike Son Of Rambow, it’s rooted much more in the harsh realities of growing up rather than fondly remembering the halcyon days of yesteryear.
Best friends David and Emily are having the time of their lives in a coastal caravan park. They run on caravan roofs, steal sweets from Emily’s mother’s shop and spend every waking moment together.
As they hang out with the park’s dim-witted security guard Steve (an object of Emily’s teenage desire), David learns that Emily is going to have to move. Knowing that this will threaten their idyllic lives together, he helps her run away and set up a hideaway in a remote cave by the beach.
All is well at first – they have their own little hideout and David brings Emily clothes and food. Emily’s disappearance starts to attract media attention, a search begins and spotlight turns to Steve who’s suspected as the last person to have seen her.
Inside the cave, Emily writes letters to Steve, giving them to David. But as the situation starts to slip out of his control, David is forced to lie to Emily about what’s happening in the outside world. When Emily threatens to leave the cave, David has to convince her to stay or his duplicity will be unveiled.
Thomas Turgoose is excellent as David, a scared boy coming to grips with the realities of growing up. He manages to portray a desire to cling to a fairytale that he knows can’t last as well as the dawning realisation that his actions have genuine consequences.
He’s the perfect foil for Holliday Grainger as Emily – headstrong, tomboyish and utterly dominant in their relationship, she’s the undisputed leader of all their adventures.
David’s solution to the problem is more radical than anything you’d expect but amidst the madness of their actions, it’s believable. In their private cave the rules of the real world are suspended; David’s irrational behaviour is borne out of desperation.
It’s a film that’s excellent at recalling carefree childhood days but one that also reminds you of the dark undercurrent of jealousy and possessiveness present even in the young. Perhaps childhood isn’t quite as rosy as our memories would have us believe.
It’s not the sunshine and light that is implied from the title, but it is a compelling and engaging film about childhood, adolescent awkwardness and frustrated desire. And not a woggle in sight.