87 minutes (18) 1995
Momentum DVD Region 2 retail
Director: Larry Clark
review by Gary Couzens
One hot day in New York City... Telly's (Leo Fitzpatrick) hobby is deflowering virgins.
One of them, a year ago, was Jennie (Chloe Sevigny). Their encounter infected her with
HIV. Now she's after Telly, to break the news to him before it's too late...
Back in 1995, Kids was the controversial film of the year.
Intended as an 'awful warning' about what today's children were getting up to
unsupervised, it survived censorship battles on both sides of the Atlantic (see below).
Now that the fuss has died down, the film itself can be reassessed. It's shallow, not
to mention exploitative and prurient, and very depressing in more ways than one. Former
photographer Clark has since gone on to make Another Day In Paradise.
Scriptwriter Harmony Korine has become a director himself (Gummo, Julien
Donkey-Boy) and Chloe Sevigny's career as an actress began here. She gives far and
away the best performance, making Jennie's plight genuinely moving.
Kids is shot in vérité style, with grainy
natural-light photography and some rough sound, some of it noticeably out of synch. The
cast are mostly non-professionals, and do look very young. It's the script's narrowness
of focus that rings false: these children talk about sex all the time - one wonders if
they ever watch TV or follow sports. Also, would teenagers use words like 'devirginise'?
Clark's motives occasionally seem suspect: in a brief scene showing Telly's mother
breastfeeding his younger brother, the camera moves in so we can get a good look. Even
if it were a hot day would all the boys really walk around with their shirts off?
Given a NC-17 rating, Kids was released unrated in the US,
Miramax (then part of the Disney organisation) setting up a subsidiary company, Shining
Excalibur Films, to do so. Before it passed the film, the BBFC obtained proof that all
the participants in sex scenes were over the age of consent. However, one
non-participant in the same shot as a sex scene was under-age, and 51 seconds have been
cut (by taking the middle out of a slow panning shot) from this 18-certificate version,
under the terms of the Child Protection Act.
DVD extras: 2.0 Stereo, and includes the trailer.
originally published in VideoVista #24 (March 2001)
Guide to the Movies
compiled by Tony
Lee editor of Pigasus Press
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