What an absolutely lovely film this is – and that’s from a Lancastrian 🙂 . It was made in 2013 and didn’t do much at the time, but it’s become a “lockdown hit” on Amazon Prime. Our “lad” is Tom, a 13-year-old boy living in the Settle area – so that’s about an hour’s drive across the Pennines from here, and it’s a beautiful drive, especially on a sunny day -, whose life falls apart when his dad dies suddenly, his brother leaves to join the Army, and his mum struggles to pay the mortgage on one wage. After getting into a bit of trouble with the police, he’s ordered to do community service, which consists of helping a Yorkshire Dales park ranger called Al, who becomes like an uncle to him and, although there’s a sad ending, helps him to learn to cope with what’s happened and to see the way ahead.
It’s a gentle, slow-moving film, with some glorious shots of Malham Cove and the countryside around Settle and Austwick, and it really is worth watching. The only problem is that it makes you feel all the more frustrated about being told you can’t go out into the countryside!
There’s a curious lack of grandparents, aunties, uncles and cousins or even family friends to help support Tom and his mum Sarah. However, in the general community, everyone’s nice to everyone else – other than a baddie bank boss who isn’t very sympathetic to the family’s financial problems after the dad’s death – and there’s no aggressive agenda, so anyone (the Guardian etc) who prefers hatred and aggression to goodness and kindness won’t appreciate it, but I think most people will.
Tom and Al are the main characters, but there are sub-plots about Tom’s growing friendship with Al’s granddaughter, and about Sarah, who trains as an HGV driver when she can’t manage on her wage from working in a shop after losing her husband. Not that much actually happens – if you’re waiting for someone to fall in Malham Tarn or off a cliff, you’ll still be waiting at the end of the film – but it’s just a really nice film, sweet but not sentimental. Not historical, but still highly recommended!