Nowt's ever fair, nowt, but you have to get used to it. Your life goes on.

Lad: A Yorkshire Story ( 2013 )

★★★   |   Aug. 25, 2018

The Yorkshire Dales set the backdrop for Dan Hartley's debut feature. Hartley previously worked as a crew member on a number of notable movies, including the Harry Potter series and the recent Star Wars movies. Here he travels back home to Yorkshire to tell a deeply personal tale of the role of a ranger in the life of a young boy who has recently lost his father.

Tom is a teenager who lives with his older brother and his parents. Their lives are turned upside down when their father dies of a heart attack. They all have their own ways of dealing with the grief. His older brother, who blames his father for leaving them, joins the army. His mother begins to fall behind in mortgage payments, and the stress starts to tell. Tom deals with it in a silent but destructive manner. He eventually gets sentenced to community service for a "manure" attack on the bank threatening to foreclose his house. It is in this that he finds a father figure, the ranger Al, who recognises the struggle he is going through, and takes him under his wing. The two bond over what they have lost, with Al's wife having past away and the distance between him and his daughter growing. They both enjoy their work, but Al admits he would trade it all for another day with his wife.

Lad was made on a shoestring budget of an estimated £120,000 and is dedicated to the real life Al, who died before the film was made. The scenery of the Dales is captured beautifully, and steals the show.  However, with the exception of a few of the leading characters, the acting throughout is weak, likely a consequence of Hartley's decision to cast non-professionals in order to boost the authenticity. The dialogue also often feels clumsy and outdated, and some supporting characters are a one-dimensional. However, despite these shortcomings, Lad does contain a number of memorable scenes and sequences, which are expertly filmed, and serve to drive it forward as an emotional tour de force. The movie also holds up the ranger as a rock of the community, which didn't go unnoticed by the ranger services, and the movie was screened outdoors in all of the UK's 15 national parks.

Lad, despite not being a polished effort, shows Hartley's potential as a filmmaker. It's also a warm tale of how the connection between two people, separated by generations, can help them both heal.

Directed by
Dan Hartley
Starring
Bretten Lord
Nancy Clarkson
Alan Gibson
Robert Hayes
Molly McGlynn
Runtime: 96 minutes
Lad: A Yorkshire Story (2013) on IMDb