'Kids In Love': Edinburgh Review

Kids In Love - still 1 -H 2016
Edinburgh International Film Festival
An undemanding teen-romance yarn elevated by youthful star-power.

Will Poulter and Alma Jorodowsky star in Chris Foggin's debut feature, a youth-oriented tale of romance in London that also features Cara Delevingne.

The delights of a casually cosmopolitan, well-heeled London form the backdrop for Chris Foggin's slight but amiable debut feature Kids In Love, which may soon become a poignant, inadvertent period piece depending on the fallout of June's earth-shaking Brexit vote. Chronicling the quasi-romance that develops between a greenhorn teenage local and the sophisticated Parisian mademoiselle with whom he becomes puppyishly infatuated, this tour of the British capital's more raffishly trendy locations is notable for providing further evidence of male-lead Will Poulter's unvarnished charisma.

Former child-actor Poulter, best known Stateside for We're the Millers, The Maze Runner and The Revenant, is front-and-center here throughout, and the 23-year-old BAFTA winner very capably carries what proves a less-than-backbreaking burden. But his aren't by any means the only distinctive eyebrows on view. Indeed, while ragingly fashionable model-actress Cara Delevingne co-star of last year's Paper Towns, and soon to be seen prominently in Suicide Squad and Luc Besson's Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets has only a relatively intermittent and peripheral role to play here, the simple fact of her presence alone will doubtless lure a chunk of her 5.6 million Twitter followers into theaters and later boost ancillary prospects.

A native of northeast England but Londoner by choice, Foggin boasts a trio of shorts to his name but has amassed considerable experience in assistant director capacities on a dozen high-profile features this decade, including 2011's Eddie Redmayne breakthrough My Week With Marilyn. Kids In Love likewise hinges on a likable young fella aiming to bat some way out of his usual league, as Poulter's nice-guy 18-year-old Jack is rapidly bowled over by cross-channel knockout Evelyn (Alma Jodorowsky).

This saturnine "lost girl from Paris" provides a nice English-language debut for Jodorowsky, granddaughter of the legendary Chilean maverick auteur Alejandro Jodorowsky of El Topo fame. We're light years away from that kind of midnight-movie radicalism here, of course, and also far removed (tonally if not geographically) from the classic, eccentric comedies of the 1950s associated with co-producer Ealing Studios' brand.

Kids In Love functions more as a chance to spend time with a bunch of unthreateningly offbeat and generally sympathetic characters as guileless, middle-class Jack is drawn into the bohemian demi-monde occupied by Evelyn and her pals Cassius and Milo (co-writers Preston Thompson and Sebastian De Souza) and wealthy, orphaned sisters Viola (Delevingne) and Elena (Gala Gordon).

What plot there is revolves around Jack's maladroit courtship of Evelyn who's nominally the girlfriend of the slightly sleazy Milo — and his belated coming-of-age both emotionally and creatively. The lad, on the verge of deciding if he's going to fulfill his parents' expectations by attending university, is encouraged in his photographic ambitions by his new chums.

His sole older acquaintance seems to be high-school friend Tom (Jamie Blackley), who can only look on in dismay as Jack explores horizons beyond his native leafy suburbs. But while Jack's self-searching eventually brings him into conflict with both his parents and Tom, such frictions are muted and downplayed. This is essentially easygoing, undemanding fare, relying heavily but wisely on Poulter's charm and likability, handled with unobtrusive professionalism by Foggin and his collaborators. Particularly noteworthy: Dirk Nel's (superfluously widescreen) cinematography, picking out the reds of London's buses and mailboxes and making the city seem alluring fun even during its inescapable rainy spells.

Venue: Edinburgh Film Festival
companies: Londinium, Ealing Studios
Cast: Will Poulter, Alma Jodorowsky, Preston Thompson, Jamie Blackley, Sebastian De Souza, Cara Delevingne, Gala Gordon, Pip Torrens, Geraldine Somerville
Director: Chris Foggin
Screenwriters: Preston Thompson, Sebastian De Souza
Producers: Barnaby Thompson, Ben Latham-Jones
Director of photography: Dirk Nel
Production designer: Hannah Purdy Foggin
Costume designer: Sian Jenkins
Editor: Chris Ranson
Composer: Rael Jones
Casting: Olivia Scott-Webb
Sales: Carnaby International, London

Not rated, 87 minutes