Sunday, 20 June 2010

Film review: The Kid



The Kid, Edinburgh International Film Festival
Wed 23 June 2010 20.35 Cineworld, Fountainbridge
Thur 24 June 2010 18.00 Cineworld, Fountainbridge
Director: Nick Moran


The Kid, based on a best-selling novel by Kevin Lewis, is Lewis' own horrific account of growing up in a council estate in 1970s London. As a child, Kevin is locked away, friendless save for his drawings on the walls, and beaten by his haggard, chain-smoking mother (Natascha McElhone) while his alcoholic father consistently escapes to the pub. After temporary relief at a foster home, an unthorough and gullible social worker mistakenly sends Kevin back home where, as a teenager, he is finally beaten unconscious and sent to a home that saves and forever affects him. A school teacher also becomes a hero at this point of the story by physically ensuring Kevin's retreat to his new haven and sends him off equipped with a set of headphones, cassette player and the classical music that beautifully soundtracks the entire film.

Kevin's new father shows him the foreign feeling of affection and supports him in every endeavor no matter how senseless or grand, until the father's unexpected death which causes his life to gruesomely unravel. Rupert Friend is the adult Kevin, with a performance that makes the hard realities to come so real, it's often unbearable to watch the harshness happen to a character with whom the audience undoubtedly loves and sympathises.

In the events that follow, including loss of his girlfriend and mortgage, and becoming a janitor by day, money-making punching bag by night, Kevin squirms in and out of danger and finally back to his derelict childhood home to attempt suicide. During this time, he also decides to document his life story in an effort to explain his emotional incapabilities to the woman he loves, his future wife, who would later transcribe his words and submit for publishing, resulting in the 2003 autobiography.

Stories, harrowing ones such as Precious, about troubled teens who find their way with the help of the teacher who went above and beyond have, of course, been told before but this film proves they should be told because they're true. It's an inspirational story with the cast and direction that convey it with brilliance.

Lewis has since followed up The Kid with the novel, The Kid Moves On.

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