Monday 7 March 2011

THE KID DVD review

Do you like your dramas to be particularly miserable? Then you might enjoy this new film from Nick 'Lock, Stock' Moran. Watch the trailer and read my review, next...

Told across his journey into adulthood, troubled kid Kevin grows up in an abusive household ruled over by his Mother (an unrecognisable Natascha McElhone). After being failed by the child welfare system of the 1980's, Kevin (Rupert Friend) finally starts to turn his life around with the help of boxing enthusiast Alan (James Fox). With ambitious plans for the future that fall apart when Alan passes away, Kevin soon finds his life thrown back into turmoil with the underground bare knuckle boxing scene his only opportunity to earn money.

The director Nick Moran is probably best known for his starring role in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and his ensuing fallout with that film's director Guy Ritchie. Whereas the rest of the cast have continued to act steadily and in the case of Jason Statham achieved international action hero status, Moran has become the somewhat forgotten member of the group, never able to break free from the Lock, Stock knock-offs that flooded the British film market in the following years (Christie Malry's Own Double Entry, Babyjuice Express).

The Kid marks Moran's second stint in the director's chair after 2008's rock biopic Telstar, and unfortunately he's created a mostly dull affair with some amateurish direction choices. Under Moran's direction, there's never any scenes that allow the drama to build, averaging about 30 seconds in length before hastily jumping ahead to the next scene. It's hard to build an emotional attachment to Kevin Lewis' story when the film is in such a rush to show us as much gloom as possible. The first 40 minutes of the story are steeped in the kind of abject misery books like The Kid deal in (with the affectionate nickname 'Misery Memoirs'), but I left the film thinking that there's been some liberties taken to try and make the story more powerful.

Landing somewhere between NED'S and Bronson, it's so unrelentingly bleak it makes the trials of Kes' Billy Casper look like a healthy upbringing. Obviously Kevin Lewis has achieved some sort of redemption or he wouldn't have been able to write the book, but there's an awful lot of unjustified hatred to get through before he starts to turn his life around. Kevin flits between yuppie and street rat as he tries to make it in Thatcher's Britain, but he's such an unappealingly wet character it's hard to root for his survival.

The Kid is too hung up on creating a believable 80's setting rather than focusing on a usable script for the talented actors to work with. As well as Rupert Friend as the adult Kevin and Jodie Whittaker as his hopeful girlfriend, the supporting cast is filled with actors who deserve better material. Bernard Hill, Ioan Gruffud, Kate Ashfield and Ralph Brown all come and go with little lasting effect.

If it was meant as an attack on the failings of the child welfare system, it would have been more effective if the film wasn't so painfully mawkish and overly melodramatic. However if you're a fan of the book or those of a similar ilk, The Kid delivers the kind of pathos pummeling, against all odds story you'd hope for. It fails to deliver a knock-out punch, instead issuing more of a wet slap.


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