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Star - Rupert Friend
Genre - Drama
County - UK
Certificate - 15
Run Time - 111 minutes
Blockbusters - £0.99 per night
Amazon - £.00 DVD (£Blue Ray)
So 'The Kid', based on the book of the same name, telling the life story of author Kevin Lewis, plotting his rise from abused East London estate boy to successful businessmen and author, classic misery lit stuff. But there are things that don't quite sit right about the real Kevin Lewis and his rag to relative riches journey. It's almost as if he has created a downtrodden character in his biography so to reinvent himself as an author. His life was supposed to be of gangsters and bare knuckle fighting but when you actually look at the guy in the special features interviews he sounds and looks more like the Queens equerry than Vinnie Jones. It's then hard to collaborate in your mind how much of his book really happened and just how tough his upbringing was and so unsure how much credibility the film you're watching actually has. You can see the director and the producer are equally unsure when they talk about the film in the extras and how they went about putting it together and what bits to put in, leave out and simply make up. The fact this got £6.5 million funding must suggest someone thought it was real and a powerful story worth telling but it could simply have been made by money coming from those very same villains so to avoid tax in on of those dodgy schemes footballers like to invest in. But even when the story that's decided is told on film it's not that inspiring or exceptional and nothing about The Kid suggests it could transfer from misery lit to movie. If I was a director I would have more confidence in transferring the Life of Pi to film than this.
Rupert Friend as Kevin Lewis
Augustus Prew as Kevin Lewis (jnr)
Natascha McElhone as Gloria
Ioan Gruffudd as Colin Smith
Con O'Neill as Dennis
Bernard Hill as Uncle David
Jodie Whittaker as Jackie
David O'Hara as Terry
James Fox as Alan
Kate Ashfield as Madeline
Ralph Brown as Gordon Peters
We meet young Kevin (Rupert Friend), shivering, beaten and broken after a fight of sorts, being dumped out of van by two thugs in front of his empty dilapidated home, clearly a man who can fall no further and about to top himself, pills and whisky to his blooded hand. We then flashback ten years to how he became to be in this predicament and learn more about his demons, his mother Gloria (Natascha McElhone) the devil of the piece.
Gloria would beat on him and use him as an ashtray 24/7 in the family home and epileptic dad Colin (Ioan Gruffudd), when nagged by Gloria for drinking away all his wages and her housekeeping, would also take his frustrations out on young Kevin (Augustus Prew), so much so that Kevin would wet his bed up until his tenth birthday and draw crazy doodles on the walls of his bedroom in demented anger.
Unable to resolve disputes from that festering hate within without the use of his fists it would be new school after new school for Kevin. But his savior would be one of his schoolteacher (James fox), who notices all his burns and bruises during PE, calling social services, which finally gets him removed from home at 15 and into a safe place. Its here in his life he is put with a foster family he genuinely likes, that of retired banker Gordon Peters (Ralph Brown) and his fragrant wife Madeline (Kate Ashfield), who improve his grades dramatically and settle him down for his CSEs, dreaming of being a stockbroker after a school visit to Threadneedle Street. Gordon also introduces him to the discipline of boxing.
But Gordon dies of a heart attack and so Madeline wants to sell the house and move to Australia, Kevin persuading her to let him live on their as he chases his entrepreneurial dreams and pay the mortgage and then sell the house at the height of the 80s housing boom for a nice nest egg for her. But he soon gets behind with the mortgage and unscrupulous people at the gym seize on an opportunity to exploit his vulnerability and impressive fighting skills by giving him money to pay the bills but must fight occasional illegal bare-knuckle bouts to earn that cash, hardman Terry (David O'Hara) the chief protagonist in crime. And so begins his descent into criminality, all this whilst smitten on pretty office girl Jackie (Jodie Whittaker).
This is a mess. If the film is based on a true story then you must be interested in the story and care about the protagonist. The fact the life story achievement isn't exactly clear and doesn't feel real doesn't help. From what we can make out is he beat up a few gypsies in a pub car park and ran a dodgy boozer and then got married and wrote a book about it. There's just nothing here that makes you care for Kevin's journey.
Friend is ok in the lead and seems to play the kid with a slightly retarded bent to win over the audience sympathy early on whilst striking actress Natascha McElhone is dreadful in the lead and clearly thinks she is in a Mike Leigh comedy with her frosted thick glasses and fag on in every scene. The rest of the cast do their best but the pretentious droning soundtrack just puts you off even more as it drags on. Director Nick Moran spends way too long on the abuse of young Kevin and 50 minutes of the film have gone before he has grown up and thrown his first punch, leaving 51 minutes to cram the adult story in and why exactly this guys life is worth a book, which it clearly isn't. And neither actor or the real Lewis convince that they could ever throw a punch in anger and again that falls flat like his opponents. But because the story is so obscure and probably a normal upbringing and eventual escape for many kids in these parts does anyone care to check if it's real? This is not Henry Hills rise through the mafia in Goodfella's!
To me this is about a bloke who has had a dull life like the rest of us and embellished what he has done to feed his desire to be a writer. Hey, we have all been there guys. For some reason a film company thought there was more to the book and it would translate to film and the money was found. It would have been better to have made an East End gangster movie than a semi sentimental tale of making it out of the ghetto. As the final gross has not been disclosed for the straight to video numbers we can presume it tanked badly and Nick Moran and co were wrong to even try to make something entertaining from this misery lit. Unless it was meant to fail for tax reasons. Sometimes things are best left on paper.
Imdb.com - 6.6 /10.0 (869votes)
Metacritc.com - 54% critic's approval rating
Rottentomatos.com -56% critic's approval rating
The Guardian - 'Nick Moran -- like Casey Affleck, an actor-turned-director -- marshals his relentlessly grim material unflinchingly, and Rupert Friend, as the adult Kevin, is engaging and convincing in a complex role'.
Time Out -'This is an inspiring story, but it's badly told. Best read the book instead'.
The Daily Star -'A de-glamorized Natascha McElhone is so unconvincing as the harridan of a mother that her performance is hard to take seriously'.
The Daily Express -'Lewis' story is unquestionably horrific but by forcing it into the mould of a triumph-over-adversity heart-warmer, all of the raw, nasty edges have been smoothed off to leave a sickly-sweet wad of gloop'.
The Times -'If you're going to make a biopic about an abused child who grows up to be a bare-knuckle boxer, it might help to hire an actor who looks like he can actually handle himself in a scrap or two'.
= = = Special Feature = = =
-Interview with Kevin Lewis-
We meet the real Kevin and he doesn't look anything like a bare-knuckle fighter. He looks cagey on his sofa when asked how much of the film was accurate.
-The Making of The Kid-
Director Nick Moran and the cast& crew talk about the film
-West End Premier-
Some stills and voice silent clips of the première.
-Q&A with director, producer-
Again you can see awaked shuffles when asked how real this film is by the host.
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