Based on his own memoirs, The Kid chronicles the life of author Kevin Lewis, from his childhood with his abusive family, through his teen years in foster care up to his early adult life of being manipulated into criminal business activities and the world of bare-knuckle boxing.
It seems that British film companies don’t actually want our films to garner a following outside of our shores. I take this to be the case because the few films lucky enough to actually secure reasonable budgets feel the need to legitimize themselves by showing us the gritty realism of our hard-luck-lives. Not something I’d imagine too many people outside of the UK would care about, at all. This is usually accomplished with grainy, ugly visuals that really hit home how crappy our situations are (You would think that no one over here has a nice life). Add to this the fact that any biopics that get made are about people whom those outside of Britain would barely know, never mind care about. In the last few years we have had films about the singers Ian Curtis (Control) and Ian Dury (Sex And Drugs And Rock And Roll) along with the disturbed criminal Charles Bronson (Bronson), and now we follow suit with a film about the abuse victim and best selling author Kevin Lewis.
It was with this pre-conception that I went into The Kid, and was almost immediately proved right as with stark realism I was thrust into horrendous instances of abuse in the young Lewis’ life. How surprised I was then to find myself gripped by what was going on, heartbroken by the quite extraordinary situations Lewis had to contend with and lifted by the few rays of hope that sporadically present themselves.
It’s a powerful set up and thanks in no small part, I think, to the genuinely stellar cast that director Nick Moran has put together, which includes a near unrecognizable Natasha McElhone (Californication, Ronin) as Kevin’s monstrous mother, Bernard Hill (The Lord Of The Rings) as a kindly foster care worker and Ioan Gruffudd (Fantastic Four, Hornblower) as a supportive teacher.
Unfortunately The Kid is a film of two halves and as Kevin Lewis reaches his adult years the film takes a sharp turn for the boring and somewhat predictable. A precursor to this is a sloppy and feeble sounding voiceover that permeates the film up to this point. You would have thought that as Lewis reaches the period of his life in which he was manipulated into taking part in bare-knuckle fights the pace would pick up a bit, but quite the opposite is the case. Lewis cuts a weak figure in weakly constructed fight sequences that are weakly filmed. Weak, weak, weak! Though, in fairness, the fights are in no way the main focus of the film.
A clip of the real Kevin Lewis is played at the end of the film in which he seems quite mild mannered but Rupert friend’s (The Young Victoria) interpretation of Lewis pushes this too far, at points seeming so timid that he boarders on the retarded, a trait not helped by the fact that he often looks just like Mr Bean.
In these later scenes too the griminess of the set-up seems out of place, sometimes to the point of distraction. Happily though The Kid avoids the pretension that infected last years disgustingly overrated Bronson and so comes out a much easier film to get along with, but it’s nothing to write home about.
C+ grade – for storytelling
B+ grade – for the cast
C- grade – for direction
D grade – for action
Overall grade – C