Critique: ‘Kids’ (1995)

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Directory of World Cinema: American Independent 2, edited by John Berra, published by Intellect Books, 2013

With a title as innocuous and generic as Kids, one may expect a trite Steve Martin or Robin Williams comedy about the ‘difficulties’ of growing up. Amongst the numerous variations on the same title, Kids is certainly not to be confused with Hal Hartley’s student thesis film, Kid, Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid, or Disney’s film, The Kid, in which Bruce Willis’s character learns ‘real life lessons’ through improbably talking to an eight-year old version of himself with hair.

Being in the plural form, the title Kids suggests that the focus of the narrative is not on one magical child through whom we can all in some way be reflectively bettered. Instead, Kids points towards an ensemble structure, and in this instance, it is used to examine a specific cultural group: rudderless, a mid-1990s’ skateboarding clique of teenagers from New York City.

The film had an incredibly low feature-film budget of around $1.5 million and was cast with no professional actors. Chloë Sevigny and Rosario Dawson both made their debuts in Kids, and their impressive performances partially explain how the film went on to make $20 million dollars worldwide, and launch their careers.

Aided by the quasi-documentary style that the films minimal budget afforded, and the ‘authenticity’ of the performances…

 

The full 850 word version of this review is published in Directory of World Cinema: American Independent 2, edited by John Berra, published by Intellect Books, 2013. 

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