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United Kingdom 2001
Directed by
Dominic Savage
83 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

When I Was 12

Ah England, “this throne of Kings, this sceptered isle…”, well maybe in Shakespeare’s day but that is long gone. Dominic Savage takes a moving look at the England of estate housing and shell suits (specifically Yorkshire which seems to be the paradigm of such places for British filmmakers, compare for instance Alan Clarke’ s 1986 classic, Rita, Sue and Bob Too!), and a steady diet of fags, chips, lager and domestic abuse that constitutes day-to-day life for its disenfranchised lowest class.

12-year-old Chloe (Holly Scourfield), lives a drab existence with her depressed mother (Lisa Millett), who takes comfort in drinking and occasional men friends. Chloe is the focus of Savage’s drama, which poignantly depicts the soul-destroying nature of this crudest of environments. Scourfield is compellingly natural as the lonely, withdrawn child teetering on the brink of self-destruction whilst Savage's improvisational approach and the convincing non-professional cast give a credible portrait of the tragedy of a social system that despoils so many of its members. What is surprising in this bleak landscape is that he offers any hope (he also wrote the script which was developed in workshops) but it is to his credit and not a little relief for the audience in their comfortable chairs that he does so.




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