The Kings of Summer: Is this worth your time?

Written by Mike Willoughby

What’s that old saying about buses?

What’s that old saying about buses?

Having taken the figurative feather duster to my special DVD shelf (not that one you perverts) and allocated an exclusive place for The Way, Way Back, a great piece of work which not-so-much tugged on the old heartstrings but plucked them majestically instead, I wasn’t expecting to  revisit that particular shelf with another entry quite so soon.

So it is with joyous exultation that I come bounding across the road at you (again, figuratively), with that slightly intense and wide-eyed expression on my face and your heart sinks because you know I’m going to ask if you’ve seen some indie film which no one has ever heard of before.

Recognising something that can’t be described

And yes, that is exactly what I would normally do. In this case however, more drastic measures are required. I take your hand gently and fix you with an earnest, yet comforting look whilst saying nothing except … “Come with me. You need to see this.”

A small part of you yearns to resist. An even smaller voice pipes up with “No, don’t do it. It’ll be boring and arty and you probably won’t get the ending. There will be no famous people in it and when it ends with a whimper two and a half hours later you’ll regret that you didn’t just…say…NO.”

But then you look in my eyes once more and you recognise something. You can’t describe it, nor could you fully articulate it if you tried, but deep down you know what I am about to show you may, just may be worth it. After all, I am right more often than not, and the times when I’m not, well…you’re just wrong!

Grasped a hold of me

So what is this thing you need to see so badly that I would risk my life dodging figurative traffic to tell you about? ‘Tis The Kings of Summer dear chums, and I can’t be sure but I think it has affected me in such a way that my internal dialogue has taken on an entirely new style of speech.

It has grasped a-hold of me and, even now more than 24 hours later, I cannot seem to shake it off. Mainly because I don’t want to, but also because I genuinely believe that movies tend to have a life of their own and sometimes you have to wait until they are done with you before they let you go.

Don’t be fooled: it’s not an expressionist flick

The Kings of Summer is the tale of three teenage friends who one summer, in the ultimate act of independence, take it upon themselves to escape their insufferable home lives and build their own house in the woods. Not a tree-house mind you, but a proper house. Well, maybe not a proper house, but enough of one that they can begin to realise their dream of being fully independent young men.

And as far as the narrative goes, well that’s about it. Don’t however be fooled into thinking that this is just another art-house, expressionist flick about the metamorphosis young boys go through in order to become men. Well, actually it is kind of about that, but it is so, so, SO much more!

It’s sweet and off-kilter and charming, and hilarious in such a way that it is difficult to describe. The performances are phenomenal and are so well-observed that you buy into these characters right from the get-go. The coming-of-age story is one which has been played out so many times with varying degrees of success, however in the case of The Kings of Summer there are elements which you don’t normally comes across.

The adventurous spirit of youth

There are definitely some brushstrokes which put you firmly in mind of Terence Malick in terms of the way in which the woodlands are filmed, and there is also this clash between the poetic natures of the wilderness with the spiky, yet very funnydialogue encountered back in suburbia, that all come together in this little summer whirlwind of a film.

Both Nick Robinson and Gabriel Passo, who play the core friendship of Joe and Patrick, are fantastic, however it is the performance of Moises Arias that really steals the show. This kid is something very special and the character of Biaggio now lives forever in my heart saying very strange things whilst staring blankly off into space.

Brimming with the adventurous spirit of youth whilst wrestling themes of masculinity and the quest for self-sufficiency, The Kings of Summer is a beautiful film which, unfortunately, not a lot of people are going to see, or hear about, due to its relatively low-key release. I implore you to seek this film out and even though you may not deserve to see it, it deserves to be seen by you.

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