We've all been (or are going to be, for all the younger readers out there) 12 years old at one point in our life. It's a mystical age, hindering close to the pressures of adolescence but still being a child at heart. That's exactly the perspective Kenton Hall's directorial debut, A Dozen Summers, takes.

Unfortunately, the film itself isn't actually very good. It's not even good at all, in fact. It's a harsh remark but it must be said; there's nothing going for this weakly directed, badly acted and poorly made film. Now, I'm a big fan of indie films (since they tend to be very good) and I can also say I quite like coming-of-age stories too but this coming-of-age indie just doesn't work. It's not that it can't be good, it has so much potential but it just tosses it out the window. The film has a runtime of about 1 hour and 22 minutes but it feels an hour too long. It's the kind of project you could see working as a short film, not a feature.

The film begins with a satirical narration by Chris Baker, introducing us to a story that we never get to see as he quickly encounters Maisie and Daisie (played by Scarlet and Hero Hall, respectively) who then hijack the camera and make their own film, going on their own adventure and telling their own story. As far as the premise of A Dozen Summers goes, that's literally about it - there's nothing else in the way of plot here. Where a basic plot plays to the advantage of a film like Mad Max, it only detriments the proceedings here because there is no substance to what's unfolding on-screen; it's just random scenes and ideas mawkishly tied together without any real significance. None of the jokes hit and it all feels so contrived and frustrating.

It doesn't help that none of the characters are even remotely likable either. They're all so one-dimensional and bland and the dialogue given to them is even more so, and nothing you'd expect a typical 12 year old to say. The writing is honestly so cringe-worthy and makes the viewer feel so awkward. Kenton Hall's script is so poorly and lazily written, as if he sloppily slapped this together the night before the cameras began rolling. His daughters, Scarlet and Hero, make their acting debut in the film too as our leads and whilst they seem like sweet, charismatic young girls, they really don't give a very good performance here. They are just so over-the-top and annoying and it's as if they couldn't even be bothered. The same applies for everyone, Kenton included. However, this is more to the fault of the writer/director for giving the actors such a poor script to work with rather than the cast themselves.

The idea of two 12 year-old's hijacking the camera and telling their own coming-of-age story is ingenious and has the potential to be great. Unfortunately, it's a wasted opportunity. The directing is strange and there's no coherence to anything going on. The film's heart is in the right place but nothing works. None of the jokes hit. The performances and characters are so over-the-top. The cinematography and directing style doesn't work with this. Everything feels out of place and it's a shame really, because Hall is talented too.

VERDICT:
Its heart is in the right place but, ultimately, A Dozen Summers isn't quite the coming-of-age stunner it has the potential to be and, instead, makes for an extremely tedious and dull viewing.
★☆☆☆

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About the Author

Awais Irfan
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.

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