out of Five
Running time: 100
Impressively directed, superbly written and frequently harrowing, this is a brilliantly acted drama that delivers a powerfully emotional punch.
What's it all about?
Directed by Nick Moran, The Kid is based on the true story of Kevin Lewis, who escaped a childhood of horrific abuse and a stint as a bare-knuckle boxer for a low-level criminal to eventually emerge as a bestselling author. The film opens with young Kevin (William Finn Miller) suffering regular beatings at the hands of his vicious mother (an uglied-up Natascha McElhone) and eventually being taken into care by a concerned social worker (Kate Ashfield) and the kindly owner of a children's home (Bernard Hill).
However, a well-meaning but dim-witted social worker (Tom Burke) deems Kevin fit to return home, where he suffers years more abuse before finally leaving home as a teenager (Augustus Prew) and living with new foster family Alan and Margaret (James Fox and Shirley Anne Field), whereupon he meets low-level gangster Terry (David O'Hara) and trains as a boxer. Now a young adult (Rupert Friend), Kevin finds himself forced to work as a bare-knuckle boxer for Terry after being tricked into signing a crippling mortgage agreement. But the day is coming when Kevin will fight back.
All three Kevin actors (Miller, Prew and Friend) are excellent, particularly Friend, whose choice of a weirdly high-pitched voice seems weird until you see a clip of the real Kevin at the end of the film. There's also strong support from Bernard Hill (as Uncle David), Ioan Gruffud (as a likeable teacher who tries to help Kevin) and Jodie Whittaker as Kevin's would-be girlfriend, Jackie.
Nick Moran knows his way around a montage sequence and he throws in several other inventive directorial flourishes for good measure along the way, most notably a graffiti-based opening credits sequence, an impressive and unexpected transition from Prew to Friend and a continuous, circular pan around a detention room indicating the passing of time by showing students in different 1980s fashions. He's also not afraid to make bold use of the soundtrack, including several scenes set to classical pieces or excerpts from operas.
The domestic violence scenes are extremely harrowing to watch but the film builds to a thoroughly satisfying climax that's worth all the preceding misery.
The Kid is a powerfully emotional, superbly written and impressively directed drama with terrific performances from all three young actors. Highly recommended.