7.5 out of 10
Release Date:4th June 2010
Director: Lindy Heymann
Cast: Kerrie Hayes, Nichola Burley and Jamie Doyle
Writer: Leigh Campbell
For anyone wondering where all the ‘good’ Liverpool based writers of the 80s and early 90s have gone, here’s a reminder of the those works of yore. When Willy Russell, Alan Bleasdale and Jimmy McGovern based their tales in Liverpool, they created a collection great dramas. So it’s heartening to see a genuine return with Kicks. It benefits from featuring very real identifiable Liverpudlians in an unusual tale set against a backdrop of recognisable city landmarks. Kicks is really evocative of the city’s people and places, the attitudes and the past-times. Nicole (KERRIE HAYES – TRAVELLER) is a teenage Liverpool Football Club fan. She has an unrealistic but harmless obsession with current striker and golden boy Lee Cassidy (JAMIE DOYLE). Waiting below his apartment block window and peeking through cracks in the wall at the practice grounds, her one-sided love affair seems likely that it will go unrewarded. At a city game, whilst waiting for the players to leave the ground, she befriends Jasmine (NICHOLA BURLEY – STREETDANCE), who desires to become attached to Lee, or any footballer in fact, romantically. Jasmine takes Nicole around some of the city clubs where footballers are likely to show up in the VIP rooms. In turn, Nicole invites her into her secret and solitary world. A former hideout of a long deployed Military brother becomes their HQ where they hatch fantasies about their favourite footballer. On hearing the news that Lee is to transfer to Spain at the end of the season they endeavour to get him to change his mind, but how?
Kicks wins because of a pair of winning performances from Hayes and Burley. Hayes is new to me and she is thoroughly convincing as the sensitive yet tough Nicole. Burley’s Jasmine is more fun but shows steel beneath her goofy exterior. Their hideout is a holiday caravan inexplicably perched at the edge of a dock on the Mersey. The empty river always in shot. It serves as an escape from the drudgery of daily life. Responsible adults are in short supply, with Nicole’s mother represented by post-it notes or a discarded Nurse’s uniform. The considerably richer Jasmine’s nouveau-riche family are in crises too with a sex tramp of a father and brassy mother. Their encounter with Lee comes late in the game. He’s sketched into the story deftly through snatched glimpses through a hole in the wall or a radio announcement. When it’s announced that he will be transferring to a Spanish football team next season the girls are genuinely upset, so when they do finally get to meet him they don’t quite know what to do with him.
This is where the plot gets interesting. Although, Lee’s character is predictably drawn and he turns out to be all we’ve been led to expect from premier league footballers in the tabloids, it’s the plot that surprises. The girls keep us on our toes and situation which sees Lee return to the girl’s HQ could go anywhere. The slim running time doesn’t let the grass grow under their feet and the outcome is satisfying. Their may be some grumbles from those that expect operatics but in the end at least two of the protagonists will walk away from the events wiser and perhaps a lot smarter. Being played by older actresses, you have to remind yourself that Hayes and Burley are playing 15 year olds. That’s the only criticism I can angle at the film but it’s a light one. But this does not detract from the fact that Kicks is one of the best films to come out of Liverpool since Terence Davies’ introspective documentary about the city Of Time And The City in 2005.
7.5 out of 10 – Kicks is very small-scale but at the same time realistic and captivating. Two excellent performances from the two leads and a great sense of time and place make it a worthwhile watch. At face value it sells a predictable plot but the outcome is unexpected so without turning genre cliches on their heads, the film proves to a be an important coming-of-age tale for modern teenagers. It’s a good crack at a football fan movie too that shies away from the usual tropes of hooliganism and violence. Recommended (if you can find the DVD!)
** Read a second review by seasoned ‘wooly back’ Matt Usher aka Joe Pesci II BELOW
WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT PERSON IN BEFORE?
- Kerrie Hayes: Traveller, The Mill (TV), Lillies (TV)
- Nichola Burley: Catch Me Daddy, For Those In Peril, Twenty8K, Payback Season, Wuthering Heights (2011), Soulboy, Streetdance, Donkey Punch
- Jamie Doyle: The Nephilim, 51 Degrees North