Larry Clark's Kids meets Grange Hill in Kidulthood, a West London drama that's ripped from the pages of the tabloids. Director Menhaj Huda delivers a visual feast complete with compelling situations and a ferocious soundtrack, but one that's ultimately as moralistic as the Richard Curtis rom-coms that share its setting’s postcode. Teenage multicultural London has never been brought to life so vividly, though, and for that alone this is a film that merits the attention of both kids and adults.
Noel Clarke (Billie Piper's boyfriend in Doctor Who) is both the writer and star of Kidulthood. He plays Sam, the burly sixth former who uses the school playground as his personal fiefdom. His reign of terror comes under threat, however, when a schoolgirl commits suicide; the rest of her classmates are given compassionate leave and subsequently roam the streets of London, causing mayhem with their loose-fitting tracksuits and even looser knowledge of life. Sex, drugs, violence, teenage pregnancy, shoplifting - a week's worth of Daily Mail editorials will be played out before the big climactic showdown.
"PERFORMANCES VEER FROM BRILLIANT TO PANTOMIME"
Given the young cast it's no surprise that the performances are uneven, veering from brilliant to pantomime (ironically though, it's the adults who deliver the latter). Most memorable are Aml Ameen as the charismatic, conflicted Trife; Red Madrell's pregnant Alisa; and Adam Deacon as the comic relief, Jay. Although lacking the finesse of Saul Dibb's more poetic Bullet Boy (2005), Kidulthood is still a movie that happy-slaps some welcome life into the British film industry.