Directed by Mike Mills, starring Lou Taylor Pucci, Tilda Swinton, Vince Vaughn, Vincent D'Onofrio, Kelli Garner and Keanu Reeves.

'Thumbsucker' is a tale about how Justin Cobb (Pucci) uses addiction to deal with the insecurities of his bewildered teenage life.

His family and school life have moulded him into a deeply insecure creature and as a result he has never been able to shake off the habit of sucking his thumb in times of trouble. Despite the objections of his sport-loving father (D'Onofrio) and his caring mother (Swinton), Justin has been unable to let go of his thumb successfully.

However, his New Age orthodontist Perry (Reeves) persuades Justin to allow him perform a basic hypnosis technique that will allow Justin to move on with his life.

The hypnosis is successful but leaves Justin in a state of near madness as he has lost the one outlet he had from the insecurities in his life.

Help comes in a different form when his debate tutor, Mr Geary (Vaughn), moves to develop Justin's newfound confidence after being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Justin becomes addicted to the prescription drug Ritalin and this becomes the perfect replacement for his thumb.

This new confidence again proves short term as the underlying insecurities that caused the thumbsucking remain. Justin is still ill at ease with the fact that his mother seems set to abandon her family and still does not feel like he can relate to his peers. 

He abandons Ritalin and finds new solace in the form, literally, of debate team rebel Rebecca (Garner) and the joys of cannabis. Again, this addiction takes over, as Justin has still not addressed the issues that have been sending him in search of comfort.

It is only when Justin resolves these issues that he is able to accept his role in life and deal with everything that has been weighing on top of him.

The storyline moves smoothly and it's easy to relate to all of the characters. Every parent, teenager and teacher should be forced to watch this movie as you cannot help but feel enlightened by the small issues that grow into major dilemmas throughout.

The only thing that takes from the movie is the typically wooden performance from Keanu Reeves. The one consolation from this outing is that he doesn't always look as constantly confused as he did in 'The Matrix'. However, the way that his character subliminally mirrors the development of Justin is another highpoint of the movie.

Pucci has already been awarded the Special Jury Prize for Acting at the Sundance Festival this year and it would be a major talking point if he does not figure among the nominations at next year's Oscars.

The soundtrack and original score are completely written and performed by Tim Delaughter and The Polyphonic Spree (with additional songs by Elliot Smith). This really adds to the whole feel behind the production as it captures the emotion behind every scene perfectly and there are few who will still have a dry eye by the close.

'Thumbsucker' is quite simply the most realistic tale of teenage problems that you are ever likely to see on the big screen. If you go and see one film before heading out to buy your Christmas presents make sure it's this one.

Patrick Kennedy