Chris Foggin’s Kids in Love captures that sense of desire you carry in your formative years, when you feel enamoured and beguiled with people, music and life. Though this title is flawed, it works as an absorbing nostalgia trip, taking you back to how you felt when falling in love for the first time. Imagine caring that much about anything now? The film works, for it’s been co-penned by Sebastian De Souza and Preston Thompson – two of the lead roles – and their youthful energy ensures that the film is not tarnished or distorted by hindsight. It’s not looking back at that time in our lives with an affectionate eye – it’s written by two people right in the middle of it.
Will Poulter plays Jack, who has completed his A-Levels and is preparing himself for Uni, enjoying one final summer before studies are resumed. His father wants him to work, his best friend Tom (Jamie Blackley) wants to go travelling, but Jack is hellbent on staying put – for he’s met Evelyn (Alma Jodorowsky) and had his entire life turned upside down. She’s in a relationship with Milo (De Souza) but that doesn’t stop Jack dreaming, and he becomes a focal point in the heart of their friendship group, with the charismatic Cassius (Thompson) the heartbeat. Encouraged to take up his hobby of photography, this new sense of freedom and independence lures Jack in, and suddenly whether he even goes to Uni is up in the balance – much to the annoyance of his family and best friend.
Let it be known that the group Jack becomes entwined with are annoying; contrived in their quirkiness. But we completely adopt the protagonist’s perspective, and while aware of their flaws, the spontaneity they preach is infectious, and we warm to them just as Jack does. It helps matters tremendously that Poulter is such an endearing, sincere performer, and he remains relatable the whole way through, allowing for us to adhere to his decisions, and comprehend his actions. He represents normality, and we need that entry point. It’s also vital we like Poulter, for he’s trying his luck with a beautiful French model – had he been any less charming it might’ve been difficult to abide by, which could have been detrimental to our investment, as that particular plot-point is the core to this narrative.
On a more negative note, Kids in Love doesn’t feel particularly authentic in its depiction of West London life, though given it’s taking place in the mind of Jack – almost presented as a fantasy of sorts – it’s given some leeway in its commitment to realism. It’s just interesting to see this released so close to Noel Clarke’s Brotherhood, both taking place in the exact same area, and yet depicting such different cultures. Kids in Love may not be quite as naturalistic as that particular film, but certainly triumphs in being both gloriously entertaining, and really rather sweet, too.