Thursday 11 September 2008

TIFF 2008 - Kisses

As the colour slowly drains away from the screen, the camera pulls back from a dead goldfish floating in its bowl to introduce Kylie, a young teenage girl living in the bleak suburbs of Dublin with her mother and older sister. Dylan is her neighbour next door - same age and living with his constantly fighting parents. The stark black and white images of the wasteland around their houses (now that all the colour has left) shows us this is no place for children to grow up. There appears to be not much of anything - no life, no hope.

But shortly after Dylan fights back against his abusive father, he and Kylie run away to Dublin in search of his older brother. Slowly and almost imperceptibly colour comes back into their lives. By the time they've made it to the downtown area (via a hitched ride down the river), colour saturates everything

In many ways, this is a pretty simple story - a younger generation is getting pulled into their parents' hopelessness and struggling to find something to latch onto. However, the best thing about Lance Daly's film is the wordless time we spend with Kylie and Dylan on the streets of Dublin. Backed by some lovely music by the band Go Blimp Go, we follow the kids as they explore the city, search for Dylan's brother and meet new and interesting characters. There's little advancement of the plot in these sections, but they are the core of the film. There's something purely cinematic about watching them coast down the streets on their wheeled shoes or seeing how they react to the things they encounter.

The kids are both quite charming on screen. Less so off - at the Q&A after the film, director Daly was joined on stage by tight-lipped 14 year-old Shane Curry (Dylan) and a rather petulant 12 year-old Kelly O'Neill (Kylie) who obviously thought she owned the stage. It was all quite amusing actually...As novice actors though, they outdo the rest of the cast in every department. Daly has obviously coaxed some very honest performances from these youngsters as the adult actors are frankly not in their league.

But that doesn't matter. It's all about an adventure these two kids experience together, seeing the vitality of life, witnessing some of its dangers and finding perhaps a small bit of hope at the end of the day.

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