Kidulthood (Collector's Edition) Review
Kidulthood boldly strides where scant disconnected and bewildered parents have dared to even peep before, by peeling back the slightly grubby, frayed edges of the hoody to grab a fleeting snapshot of the bullying, violence, sex, drug abuse, prostitution, alcoholism and crime that is, if the film is an authentic portrayal of the youth presented, tragically endemic in many British youngster’s lives.
As one might expect, the film is liberally littered with profanity, violence, and the excesses of ASBO-oriented behaviour, and doubtless this release of the Director’s Cut of the 2006 film has triggered a reverberating, synchronised collective “tut!” from the self-righteous and morally upright Daily Mail readership, whom are unlikely to even consider watching such a film, let alone examine the issues that the movie raises but ultimately shadows beneath the glut of graphically represented antisocial activities.
Our gritty, urban adolescent tale unfolds in uncompromising fashion with young black schoolboy Trevor (or “Trife” to his friends) working hard honing his craft in the metalwork area of school, operating a drill unit. Worryingly, his careful drilling is being exploited for converting a replica gun for gangster uncle, Curtis, a Jekyll and Hyde psychopathic gangster. Aside from this distraction, Trife isn’t inherently a bad kid, and generally tries to steer clear of the path of trouble. But trouble is never far away, whether it’s in the form of deeply unpleasant bully-boy Sam (played by writer Noel Clarke, he of Doctor Who fame), security guards in the local West London shopping precinct, or ex-girlfriend Alisa (an inherently “good” person too) and her pregnancy revelation. A chaotic climax of events is triggered by a tragedy from the school on the previous day, and the film documents the adolescents’ reactions and responses during the course of the day as they come to terms, in their own ways, with what has occurred.
For those whom this Director’s Cut is a fresh introduction to the gritty youth drama, Kidulthood is a surprising triumph on multiple levels. The predominantly young actors put in a stellar shift considering their youthful status; Rebecca Martin is painfully vulnerable as the brutally bullied, clean, and pretty middle class Katie, Noel Clarke plays hooded bully Sam in truly menacing and threatening fashion, Aml Ameen is a name to watch in the lead role of the charming Trife - battling the constant internal and external attractions that lead him astray, Red Madrell is convincing as Alisa, the sensitive pregnant ex-girlfriend of Trife, and Jamie Winstone is fantastic as Red’s chavtastic, promiscuous, and shockingly amoral friend Becky. Whilst there’s no major problem with the inevitable appearances in Casualty and other staple British dramas that can result from success in such a film (although in fairness some of the cast already had a number of such appearances under their belts), one hopes that this will signal the dawn of successful film careers for some of these promising actors, and some of them have been involved in film projects since the film’s release.
The plot is necessarily uncluttered and straightforward, and Brian Tufano’s cinematography is as sharp as the shining blades carried by some of our young characters. Take the carefully positioned shots of Trife’s workshop drill during the opening sequence, for example; the resultant delivery is exemplary.
The audio backdrop is well served too; hip hop from artists such as Skinny Man and Roots Manuva, and grime from artists such as Dizzee Rascal means that the soundtrack to our character’s lives has an appropriately British urban twang.
Some flaws were surely inevitable though with a project of this ilk. Whilst the impenetrable-to-anyone-over-the-age-of-twenty-five accents and Noel Clarke-scripted dialogue lend the film unquestionable authenticity for its target age group, cracks do emerge when the youth sphere overlaps with the adult world; the illusion is, for a while, diluted. Whilst Cornell John plays schizo gangster Uncle Curtis in delightful fashion (complete with rich Jamaican accent - “Trev-ah…me little Gun Drill-ah!”), other adults aren’t represented quite so convincingly. Katie’s father, for example, seems easily placated with Katie’s implausible explanation for her facial injuries – “I fell over” – as the film tries to illustrate the modern disconnect between parent and child. And posh, pretty, but tormented twenty-something Stella (Kate Magowan), whilst initially convincing, doesn’t ring fully true during the uncomfortable evening visit from Trife, during this urban yarn’s evening climax.
The filmmakers are keen to point out, in the accompanying commentary, that the violence in the film is not presented in gratuitous fashion. Whilst this is certainly true in the case of the extremely unpleasant, brutal, and unflinching bullying of Katie, the attack on Sam in his own bedroom via the use of a computer keyboard and subsequent hasty exit to the lively grime sounds of Dizzee Rascal’s “Jus’ a Rascal”, is surely presented with giddy excitement.
For any shortfalls, though, Kidulthood has much to savour. It’s a tense, sometimes shocking, and disturbing snapshot of a violent, unforgiving, UK youth culture. This Director’s Cut of the gritty movie is likely to appal the moral majority, and the accents and sentiments portrayed will irritate many; but the young target audience will be delighted to revel once again in the action presented, cos dis is proper representin’ real life for the yoof of today, innit blud?
This region 2 encoded DVD is presented in anamorphic widescreen with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The high quality transfer does full justice to Brian Tufano’s sharp and stunning cinematography. Colours are rich and bright, and the definition is very clear; the fast moving action scenes are captured with suitable accuracy. The opening scene where Trife (the “Gun Drilla!”) drills the gun requires razor-sharp reproduction, and the viewer is not let down. Menus are easily navigated.
There doesn’t appear to be any subtitles.
Audio is available with the option of Dolby Digital 2.0, or 5.1 if you want to enjoy surround sound. The reproduction is clear and free from distortion, and dialogue is easily heard. Whether you can understand the volcanic verbiage or not is a different matter entirely!
The quality of the audio reproduction is particularly welcomed for the thumping urban soundtrack. The tracks are often bass-driven, and the depth of the lower end sounds seem faithful and complete.
Extras are well served in this special Director’s Cut. There’s the standard theatrical trailer, plus a trailer for the predictably titled sequel Adulthood, where Danny Dyer does everything in his power to put us off checking it out. Footage of the low key premiere has some interesting snatches of interviews with the cast and musicians involved with the project, such as successful veteran UK rapper Roots Manuva.
A ‘making of’ featurette provides a number of intriguing facts about the shooting of this movie, including the fact that Jamie Winstone was not known to the crew as Ray’s daughter when she auditioned. Noel Clarke discusses his construction of the script, and director Manhaj Huda explains the lengths he went to in order to secure funding and commitment to manifest the script on film. General marvelling at the quality of the output, considering the relatively low budget and tight shooting schedule, is indulged in, and much love comes the way of Brian Tufano, whose cinematography is indeed very accomplished.
You can also watch the movie with accompanying commentary from Clarke and Huda, which proves a relaxed affair. Their thoughts flesh out what they were trying to do with some of the scenes, such as their efforts to capture the ‘real’ nature of school for kids today, with its rough and uncompromising nature.
Some other extras include footage of the after-premiere party with skinny-by-name skinny-by-nature UK rapper Skinny Man, and his ‘Council Estate of Mind’ video also graces this release.
2006’s Noel Clarke-penned and Manhaj Huda-directed piece deals a blow something akin to a sharp, rasping happy slap from a profane and acne-challenged adolescent, providing a disturbing and troubling snapshot of the lives of the urban British youth in West London. It’s got a daft name, and the rapid-fire street-speak and controversial subject matter doubtless alienates a percentage of the population, but for fans of the movie, this Director’s Cut edition constitutes an excellent package with a number of decent extras to unveil further secrets of the often impenetrable world of modern British youth.