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Simon Read [Film Festival 06.21.09] movie review thriller drama

Year: 2009
Directors: Lindy Heymann
Writers: Leigh Campbell
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: projectcyclops
Rating: 7 out of 10

Kicks tells the story of Nicole and Jasmin, two girls from opposite sides of the tracks who bond over their favourite football (soccer) star, Lee, in Liverpool. Meeting for the first time outside the club training grounds to try and get a peek at the guy, they hit it off and go clubbing together, at which point their differences become more apparent. Nicole (or Col) is a shy and intelligent girl who comes from the kind of household where you'd see an asthma inhaler next to a ashtray full of old butts, while Jasmine's family are wealthy nouveau riche, promising her a boob-job for her sweet-sixteenth. Jasmine wants to marry rich and be a pro-party girl, while Col wants a, "Brain-job", rather than chest enhancement, and her love for Lee is more cerebral and obsessive, rather than a simple teenage crush on a possible WAG magnet.

The film begins slowly but the tension mounts as they move into Col's big brother's caravan and clean it out while he's stationed in Iraq. They try several times to catch Lee's attention, even to the point of satisfying a bouncer to gain access to a VIP lounge, but when they finally track him down it's pretty easy to convince the horny footie star to come along back to theirs and have some kinky fun with a blindfold, chair and some rope.

There are, our red blooded male readers will be glad to know, very homoerotic undertones to Jas and Col's relationship. From the outset there's a sexual tension between them that culminates with a rather sordid snogging session in front of a trussed-up Lee, who goads them into experimenting with each other while he's tied to a chair and having the time of his life, but as anyone who's seen the trailer for Kicks knows, things go awry and the atmosphere turns nasty.

The last act of Kicks is set within the caravan, which has turned into something of a shrine to Lee. The girls don't want him to transfer to Madrid and they let him know it, once sex is out of the question, Lee becomes a hostage and gets very uncomfortable with their drunken abuse. Unfortunately, director Lindy Heymann and screen writer Leigh Campbell, like Jas and Col themselves, don't seem quite sure of what to do with Lee once he's bound and helpless. The girls get plastered on vodka and ask him questions about his life, balking at the sex videos on his mobile phone and insulting his lifestyle, but nothing concrete comes from this play. Col, somewhat predictably, is the more aggressive kidnapper, threatening to blow his foot off with her brother's gun, while Jasmine gets cold feet and wants to let him go. The tension is there, but the outcome is slightly disappointing.

Certainly not your run-of-the-mill psychological thriller, Kicks is terrifically acted by Kerrie Hayes and Nichola Burley as Col and Jasmine, Hayes standing out as a deeply troubled teenager who seems to believe that she and Lee are cosmically linked, she gives an honest and bracing performance. Jamie Doyle as Lee is also on form as the footballer who just wants to be set free and move to Spain, without fans blaming him for jumping ship.

Kicks is a very intense and interesting film and, I think, will appeal more to the teenage audience looking for a good thriller that they can relate to, but it's also pitched at the grown-up crowd too, with a great soundtrack from Ladytron and slick and inventive direction from multi-award winning Heymann.

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