Friday, July 16, 2010

Movie with Abe: Kisses

Directed by Lance Daly
Released July 16, 2010

There are many different types of children’s movies. Much like the expression “you can’t pick your nose, you can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose,” there are movies made for children, movies made about children, but rarely movies made for children by children. There’s still a distinction when it comes to the audience of a film, however, which is often made much clearer by the MPAA rating a film receives. Though the 72-minute import from Ireland didn’t get an official rating, “Kisses” is certainly an instance of a film about children but most definitely not for children.

“Kisses” finds its two preteen protagonists, Dylan and Kylie, each living in miserable homes where foul language and, more seriously, physical abuse are regular occurrences. The film opens in black and white to mirror the children’s melancholy, and circumstances quickly arise that force the two next-door neighbors to flee their all-too-familiar street and run away from the punishments that await them. As Dylan and Kylie hop aboard a boat headed for destinations unknown, the film suddenly bursts into color, indicating a change in worldview on the part of these two young people who have never experienced anything besides the awful state of their home lives.

“Kisses” is a fantasy movie in many respects, allow its main characters to break free of the confines of their dead-end lives and escape to see the world. Their journey is magical and at the same time wonderfully simplistic: the kids blow their money on ice cream and roller shoes. Their adventure is enchanting and the film never loses sight of the fact that these kids are just kids. While the events of the film, which include encounters with pedophiles, would be any parent’s nightmare, the parents in this film are really the nightmare, and it’s the emotional connection formed by these young leads that is ultimately rewarding.

At the heart of “Kisses” are its two extremely young stars, who perform even more commendably than their characters do when faced with a difficult task usually assigned to adults. Shane Curry and Kelly O’Neill, both in their debut film roles, are extraordinarily impressive and make it easy to forget that there are no adults present with their impressive and real performances. This is quiet, subtle, and lovely film that thrusts two children from abusive homes into the real world and affords them an alternately moving, frightening, touching, and bittersweet chance to a live a life not their own. This is just the latest in a series of impressive films coming out of Ireland, following “The Eclipse” and “Ondine.” This one may not seem as substantive on the surface or have any award-winning actors in its cast, but it’s still just as wonderful.


1 comment:

Cynthia Blank said...

I really like you labeling the movie as a mix of fantasy and adventure. To me it felt so realistic while watching, that it's interesting to also think of it as a kind of escapism. Also completely agree about the performances of the two stars and the connection the characters form in the movie.