Kidulthood
R1 - America - Image Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Jeremiah Chin (3rd February 2009).
The Film

One of the great advantages of film is being able to jump into different times, different places, and essentially create their own reality, even if it’s similar or supposed to be a true or a real life story, in making a film it takes it’s own look at some aspect of life and reality as the director, writer, and actors see it. Though films can cover long or short periods of time, those that take a fairly simplistic look at a single ‘day in the life’ story often have a lot more resonance or impact, especially when dealing with youth. From George Lucas’ masterful “American Graffiti” (1973) to Richard Linklater’s “Dazed and Confused” (1993), these movies about youth focus on a single day in the life of a single group of kids and how one day can shift their lives in very distinct ways. One of the latest of these ‘day in the life’ films comes from the other side of the Atlantic in Noel Clarke’s “Kidulthood” (2006). While it doesn’t entirely break new ground, shift the discourse or steak out it’s own spot in cinema like the other two films I mentioned, it presents an engaging look into the lives of West London youth.

On what seems like a fairly typical school day, one of the students starts handing out invitations to everyone for an upcoming party. As each clique deals with their own issues, it’s fairly obvious that most have their own way of picking on Katie (Rebecca Martin), especially Sam (Noel Clarke) who seems to have a knack for bullying most kids at the school. Later that night, out of frustration Katie kills herself, giving her entire class the day out of school. Different groups take the day off in their own way, but the story mostly centers on the trio of Trife (Aml Ameen), Jay (Adam Deacon) and Moony (Femi Oyenrian), who spend the day going around town and getting ready for the party that night. Trife falls into his own set of problems in the morning after finding out his ex girlfriend Alisa (Red Madrell) is pregnant, while simultaneously getting deeper into the criminal side of his uncle’s life. At the same time Alisa spends the day debating what to do about their baby, while following her friend Becky (Jaime Winstone) around town to get supplies for the party (which roughly translates to drugs and clothes).

Before I really get into the plot or the writing, perhaps my favorite part of the film was the great british hip-hop soundtrack, featuring The Streets among others, giving some great rythem to the film while simultaneously keeping it to a very distinctly British tone. Some of the artists and songs used I hadn’t even heard of but were so catchy in their own right it really adds to my enjoyment of the film and makes me want to go and check out the rest of the artist’s catalogue once the film is done.

In terms of story, Clarke does a good job at setting the West London vibe of the film and getting into some ideas that are both unique and International in their own way, but the plot isn’t terribly fresh. Many of the plot points are a little predictable and you can see where the film is going in many ways (though there was a clever point at the end that were well foreshadowed in retrospect), but this doesn’t really bring the whole film down with it, it just doesn’t really let the film step it up. While it’s easy to compare the movie to a more British version of “Kids” (1995), it doesn’t feel quite as voyeuristic in it’s writing or in Menhaj Huda’s directing.

Overall it’s a nice enough film to watch that really has a great soundtrack, but in most respects it falls a little flat. The characters are not terribly memorable, there are some funny moments, but there are some more ridiculous scenes that tend feel like they’re trying a little too hard to be edgy or even trying to be “Requiem for a Dream” (1999). The performances by the young group of actors is fairly strong and the film makes some interesting overall points, but lacks a full sense of resolution or consequence that would help to take it to another level. (Though I openly welcome the 89 minute runtime and the 2008 sequel “Adulthood” which also co-stars and is written by Clarke may add what’s missing).

Video

The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation and transfer looks fairly good, the film quality falls somewhere between video and higher-end film, which is either due to budgetary or stylistic concerns in presenting it as a sort of fictionalized documentary. There’s no real problems with the video and the transfer looks fairly clean, though there are some scenes that don’t really have the lighting to add the crispness that you can see in other scenes.

Audio

There are tracks in English Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 surround, the 5.1 sound transfer is good, though there is the odd drop in sound where either the dialogue or music level will suddenly drop volume only to come back up, like someone who whispers mid-sentence. Other than that the audio sounds good and as I mentioned in the review the soundtrack is really something.
There’s also optional English and Spanish subtitles.

Extras

The single disc comes well equipped with bonus features including a 7-part making-of featurettes, 8 deleted/extended scenes, a theatrical trailer and bonus trailers.

The "Making-of Kidulthood" featurettes covers most of the aspects of production, going through the different aspects in sections, described below. In sum the making-of runs for 30 minutes and 2 seconds, and does a good job of looking at the production as a whole, with some good face time with the creators, the actors and behind the scenes footage. The individual clips are:

- “The Concept” runs for 5 minutes and 44 seconds, screenwriter/actor Noel Clarke talks about creating the film based off of his childhood experiences in response to a play he saw where the writer felt like he knew British urban youth, though Clarke thought he was totally off.
- “Going in to Production” runs for 3 minutes and 55 seconds, director Menhaj Huda talks about briging the film together, acting both as producer and director and shopping the film to different companies and casting the work itself.
- “The Casting Process” runs for 2 minutes and 51 seconds, Clarke talks about casting the film, this part also features brief snippets with the actors who describe their initial reactions to being cast in the film.
- “The Shoot” runs for 9 minutes and 1 second, this segment shows the production being put together on the set ad at the different locations, budget issues and how the crew planned to work around them.
- “Behind-the-Scenes” runs for 3 minutes and 24 seconds, Clarke and other actors talk about some behind the scenes factoids, like different ways they did the shots, lots of on set footage and interesting talk of technique.
- “The Result” runs for 2 minutes and 57 seconds, Clarke and Huda talk about the reactions to the film, what they hoped to accomplish with the film and the result of the attention they achieved through the film.

Next are the deleted and extended scenes, 8 in all, described below:

- “Trife Talking about Katie (extended)” runs for 54 seconds, Trife and Jay talk about girls.
- “Becky and Alisa Party (extended)” runs for 58 seconds, Becky and Alisa talk about American kids and take drugs.
- “No Onions (extended)” runs for 2 minutes and 20 seconds, the trio talks about going back after Sam and Trife’s uncle.
- “Alisa checking on Becky (deleted)” runs for 46 seconds, Alisa goes to check on Becky who’s having sex with her older boyfriend.
- “On the Tube (extended)” runs for 34 seconds, Alisa and Becky ride the train and talk about Katie with the tough girls.
- “Trife and Stella (extended)” runs for 26 seconds, Trife and Stella talk shoes.
- “Moony and Becky in the Mall (extended)” runs for 25 seconds, Becky tells Moony he’s buff.
- “Sam and Claire in Bed (alternate)” runs for 1 minute and 15 seconds, Sam leaves Claire in bed to go to the party to take care of his business with Trife.
- “Stella’s flat (deleted)” runs for 4 minutes and 13 seconds, Trife goes to Stella’s apartment, she offers him some wine and they kiss.

There's the theatrical trailer for Kidulthood runs for 2 minutes and 4 seconds.

There are also some bonus trailers for:

- “Life & Lyrics” runs for 1 minute and 44 seconds.
- “Bullet Boy” runs for 1 minutes and 43 seconds.
- “Death Toll” runs for 1 minute and 53 seconds.
- “I’m Done with White Girls” runs for 1 minute and 17 seconds.
- “South of Pico” runs for 1 minute and 40 seconds.
- “Love for Sale” runs for 1 minute and 24 seconds.

Overall

The Film: B+ Video: B+ Audio: B- Extras: B- Overall: B-

 


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