What were your teenage years like? Do you know that question is directly proportional to where you grew up? I don’t just mean what town or state, but I also am talking about the country you were raised in. While there have been many movies over the ages that have given us clear insight into the mind and lifestyle of the American teenager, how many films can you say offer you insight into the world of the British teenager?
Outside of the original Skins, do you even have a threshold for what life must be like for teens living in the United Kingdom? I am, ofcourse, asking this is of our American readers, as readers from the U.K very much know what life is like being a teen in the U.K. For all of those who don’t know, I now present the film: Kidulthood. Man, this movie already won me over based on title alone. A title can’t be that good, and the movie suck. That just wouldn’t make sense. Thankfully, Kidulthood lives up to its amazing name.
As if you could not tell from the title, a great many people consider this movie to be U.K’s version of the Larry Clark film, Kids. In some ways, I can understand that. A movie that gives us the dark and honest glimpse into the lifestyle of some inner city kids, and all the trials and tribulations they face in an average day. It could also be said Kidulthood watches it all with an unflinching eye, very much like Kids did. But really, when you strip the two movies down, outside of being about Kids and being raw, they are very different films, and should be watched and judged on their own merit.
Okay, grab the popcorn and pull up your favorite sunken bean-bag chair. Trailer time.
So this movie is about the Ladbroke Grove and Latimer Rd sections of Inner West London. From what we can gather, it is kind of the ‘hood of London. I mean no offense to anyone by saying that. I used to live in Fall River, Massachusetts. Trust me, the last thing I am doing is casting stones.
Now I need to say something about Kidulthood. Some of you may watch this and wonder how you can like a film that has, technically, no protagonists. A film where everyone, in some way or another, is an asshole or a sociopath. The thing that worked for me about Kidulthood is that it didn’t need a protagonist. This movie is not trying to be anything else than what it is. It does not want you to stand up and cheer for it. It WANTS you to stew in the discomfort because that is the point of telling a story like this. Movies like Kidulthood do nothing but peel back a layer and allow us to peer into a lifestyle we would otherwise be naive to. It doesn’t want you walking away from it thinking these kids are cool. It doesn’t want you walking away from it wishing you were a drug-taking-teen. If anything, Kidulthood wants you to walk away from the movie thankful that you don’t have to live a life like that. In the exact same breath, it wants you to be aware that this is the world we are breeding. Vile, violent kids filled with contempt and rage, and no sense of right or wrong. With Kidulthood, we are simply getting to look in on a generation WE ALL helped create.
Understandably, that can hard for some people.
Kidulthood focuses mainly on a character named Trevor (Trife), but also deals with the girl he may have impregnated, named Alisa. Just the dynamic of these two is quite daunting. Like usual, this is not a movie to watch if you want to walk away with a big, wide smile. I guess in that sense, it IS a lot like Kids.
To give you an idea just how bleak it is, the movie opens with our main characters bullying a girl. The girl then proceeds to go home and hang herself. When the kids find out, the school gives them some time to mourn, and instead, they decided to throw a party. That, my Unreality friends, set the tone for the whole movie. Like I said, not a Disney ride, for sure. But I want to bring this back around to the intro, if I may.
What were YOUR teenage years like?
I ask because mine were definitely more like Kidulthood than The Goonies (unfortunately). I mean, really. I am NOT exaggerating. So I see a movie like Kidulthood, and while it makes most people cringe, I get it. I get that life is not easy for kids. I get that sex and drugs are a big part of growing up. I get that good friends die and other ones kill themselves. I get that there is violence and sadness and angst, and above all else, a hovering sense of constant confusion. I get that, all too well. So when a movie represents that, I FEEL it. Remember, the best films make us feel things, but those things don’t always have to be good.
So the movie covers two days, begins with a suicide, and ends with the party the suicide caused. I am sure you can imagine, things get a little hectic at the party. I left out the most interesting subplot, which I think is Trevor and his Uncle. I will not say anything more than that, but you will realize during the “basement scene”, that this movie goes to some places even KIDS didn’t.
I understand that Kidulthood may not be for everyone. Heck, a good deal of the movies I recommend may not be. But I enjoyed it, not in the “this is fun” sense, but in the “holy shit, I am SO grateful I am over that period in my life” sense. Keep in mind, there is a sequel called Adulthood (I see what they did there), but it pales in comparison. Not a bad film by any means, but lacks the impact of its predecessor.
In closing, we may think we miss our childhood, but Kidulthood reminds us that, for some of us, that was the worst part of our lives.
Not me, though. I f%+#*ing loved those years, mistakes and all.