mon 17/06/2024

Kicks | reviews, news & interviews



Be careful what you wish for: a taut fable about obsessive fans

Getting their kicks: Kerrie Hayes and Nichola Burley plays stalker fans in 'Kicks'

This is a modest film – only 80 minutes long – with big things to say about the way celebrity warps the lives of all who come into contact with it: not only of the elect few whose faces adorn teenage walls, but also those lonely girls in their bedrooms who conjure up a sustaining fantasy that some of the fame will brush personally off on them.

Two teenage girls, both blindly enamoured of a (fictional) Liverpool player called Lee Cassidy, meet at the gates of Anfield. Obsession is their bond. Nicole (Kerrie Hayes), blonde, tentative and from a broken home in a poor part of the city, has drawn a shorter straw than Jasmine (Nichola Burley), a big-eyed brunette who already has the mansion and the clothes, but wants the lot: the boob job, the modelling portfolio and the Wag lifestyle.

But Nicole is the more determined stalker, the one who tearfully tattoos her own breast with Lee's name ringed by a heart. Like Pyramus courting Thisbe through the chink, she gawps at him through a crack in the perimeter wall of the training ground. The barrier fencing off the loved object seems impenetrable. Even when they pay their way into a nightclub where he’s hobnobbing, the only route past the VIP rope is to fellate the bouncer. Jasmine, being much the brassier, is game until her less nakedly aspirational friend pulls her off.

The scenes establishing the emptiness of two young lives are beautifully done – Nicole’s park-bench rendezvous with her estranged father is especially touching. But there’s a sense that we sort of know a lot of this already. Footballers are the gods of a society – broken, according to the election mantra - which needs to believe in something. Meanwhile, girls who used to moon over boy bands have switched their allegiance to these loftier mortals.

The plot then makes a sudden switch into darker terrain as they make the logical choice to take fate into their own hands. News breaks that Lee is moving to Spain. The city feels betrayed, but the girls feel jilted. Knowing where he lives – they’ve already broken into his underground carpark and smashed his car window - one night they lie in wait outside and catch him fleeing a gobby diehard yelling “Judas”. Lee (Jamie Doyle) is consoled by the siren wail of a threesome, and lets them take him to a waterside lair owned by Nicole's brother, who’s off saving the world in the army.

It starts as a sex game, Lee tied and bound but still issuing orders for the girls to neck each other. But the more they drink, the less we are reminded of those Scouse sweethearts in Letter to Brezhnev and more of the terrifying kidnapper played by Sandra Bernhard in King of Comedy, only without the comedy. There’s no need to reveal what happens next, other than that the scales fall violently from dreamy young eyes. Their idol is made of flesh and piss after all. Presumably scriptwriter Leigh Campbell wouldn't say no to a similar reality-check for a society run on dispiriting Darwinian lines: the famous are just ordinary people who by dint of luck get to play a system which needs its gulls and dupes to oil the cogs.

If the script feels as if it might once have been a stage play, director Lindy Heymann gives it an alluring filmic sheen, shooting with an atmospheric feel for the city’s glass-fronted modernity and grimier maritime roots. She keeps for the end a ravishing pay-off - two stick-thin girls in heels silhouetted against a rising sun, a hopeful hint of moral evolution, a chastening new dawn.

Watch the Kicks trailer

The famous are just ordinary people who by dint of luck get to play a system which needs its gulls and dupes to oil the cogs

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