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Well, it's worth dipping a toe in ...

If the makers of two-part drama Dive had tinkered with the film stock to make it look a little more grainy, muddy and bleached, we could easily have been watching a Play For Today from the 1970s.

Equally, if they'd excised the occasional F-word and removed -- or even trimmed -- a short, discreet yet realistic scene of a teenage couple having sex in a night-time park, we could just as easily have been watching a particularly well-made CBBC drama.

As it is, Dive, written and directed by current television drama hotshot Dominic Savage, fell between two camps: the adult and the adolescent.

It's fitting in a way, because so do Dive's teenage protagonists. Lindsey, played with a sparkling minimalism (if that makes any sense!) by Aisling Loftus, who manages to convey a range of emotions with her face that 12 pages of dialogue couldn't get across, is an ambitious young diver dedicated to winning a place on the 2012 British Olympic team.

She follows a rigorous daily routine: up at 6.30 and driven to the pool by her dad for an intense training session before school. She politely declines her classmates' lifestyle of booze and boys in the park.

But one morning, as they're about to drive home, Dad announces that he's leaving; things between him and his wife aren't working out. "This is real life. Sometimes you fail."

By the time Lindsey gets back to her house, her apparently clueless mother (Gina McKee) has already installed her boyfriend Gary (Joseph Mawle, who also starred in Freefall), a decent, well meaning bloke, but no replacement for Lindsey's father, in the family home.

The sense of betrayal and anger triggers a change in Lindsey. Though as dedicated as ever to her dream, she breaks her rule and goes to the park with friends.

In no time at all, she's hooked up with a cocky but likeable lad called Robert (a charming, confident performance by Jack O'Connell) -- hence that sex scene I mentioned earlier -- which draws a violent reaction from the jealous bullies in her class.

Jack, as it turns out, is not the stereotypical bad lad he pretends to be. Underneath all the swaggering bullshit and bravado there's tenderness and sensitivity, and genuine love blossoms between the two of them.

Needless to say, you know what happens next: Lindsey falls pregnant, putting her Olympic dreams in jeopardy. What we have here, then, is a simple tale of puppy love and unplanned pregnancy.

At times it seems TOO simple, almost as if Savage is deliberately playing around with genre cliches.

As a director, he lays on the long, moody silences, mournful piano music, billowing skies and deserted beaches (Dive was shot on location in seaside town Eastbourne) a little too thickly at times.

But as I said, the performances from the two young leads are realistic and affecting, perfectly capturing the awkwardness of the teenage years, and it will be worth catching tonight's concluding part, which tells the remainder of the story from Ryan's point of view, to see how it works out.

But if it's a thoroughly grim portrait of teenage life you're looking for, try Underage and Having Sex, which focused on a group of Welsh teenagers alive from the waist down, dead from the neck up.

There's 13-year-old Christopher, whose voice has yet to break, but who's been bedding his 14-year-old girlfriend for a year. There's Angharad, who's 15 but looks 12 and is worried that she's getting a reputation as a slut.

Unfair, she protests, since she's only bopped one boy.

Fourteen-year-old Abby's virginity is intact -- for now. "When someone is pissed and can't go home," she giggles, "I feel all motherly!"

Give it enough time, love, and you'll feel more motherly than you can ever imagine. Infinitely depressing.

dive HHhii

UNDERAGE AND HAVING SEX HIIii


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