Kenton Hall's A Dozen Summers is an ambitious coming-of-age film brimming with intelligent and subversive ideas. Like Submarine before it, A Dozen Summers operates under a knowing wink, with the main characters adopting a self-awareness that imbues every scene with the kind of heart-on-the-sleeve affection that you rarely ever see in other young-adult flicks. Shot on a micro-budget with a cast of mostly unknown actors, Hall's flick pulses with an energy and passion for the medium that elevates what could have been a rather predictable narrative.

With a sharper edge than most pre-teen films, Hall's movie perfectly encapsulates the daunting and unique feeling of being a dumb 12-year-old. Schooled on a blend of their parent's pop culture and the current mainstream, the kids in A Dozen Summers boast a blisteringly funny knowledge beyond their years, but it's a knowledge that gets mixed in with the everyday fumblings and naiveté of your early teen years. The charming characterisation results in a relatable mixture of high and lowbrow culture - think schoolyard banter by way of Ingmar Bergman.

However it's the film's decision to break the fourth wall and structure a narrative around meta-humour that makes the movie such an invigorating watch. With an obvious love for the medium, Hall often draws attention to the fallacy of movies in general, adding a layer of critical depth that audiences may not expect from what's otherwise a young-adult film through-and-through. More than a simple gimmick, the style is inherent to the self-aware narrative the movie is trying to tell, transcending being a mere affectation and becoming one of the most gripping parts of the whole experience.

Unfortunately though, Hall's myriad of novel ideas aren't allowed to ever reach their full potential. Marred by obvious production and budget shortcomings, some of the better ideas come across a little under-cooked, with the feeling that the director probably had to peel back his vision for the ambitious project. While it's not really anyone's fault, it would be a disservice to say that it's not noticeable, as at times the production as a whole feels more amateurish than a film on this scale probably should. You get the idea that the movie would have perhaps worked better as a short, where the smaller budget could have been focussed into something more concise and polished.

It's these cracks in the production that stop the film from being the lovable piece of British youth that it should be. Without being too harsh on the young actors that make up most of the main cast, the performances in the film weaken a script that could have been properly brought to life in better hands. Baring in mind the obvious DIY nature of the movie though - the performances certainly don't stand out too much. However, when the acting - or any part of the production, really - falls below the set standard it can become painfully noticeable.

As a result, A Dozen Summer's isn't the most polished feature you'll see this year, however the sheer amount of impressive ideas on show more than makes up for any of the production's shortcomings. With a passion for cinema as a whole, Hall's film playfully toys with the tropes of the medium in a way that both makes fun of and celebrates it. You get the sense that everyone involved shared an endearing nostalgia for this realistically innocent and youthful type of comedy, and that collective vision is felt in every frame of the movie. Not without its problems, the directorial debut from Hall is full of engaging and exciting ideas, and hints towards a more sophisticated effort to come.