Tuesday, 13 October 2009


Following on from the publication of my Cambridge Film Festival report last week, I thought it might be a good idea to talk about Brian Welsh's Kin a little bit further. Why? Two reasons, really. Firstly, I’m worried that this great piece of work is in danger of being overlooked and therefore remaining undiscovered, and, secondly, in a slight contradiction, because as much as I loved it, it also represents something I really dislike about British cinema – namely a constant focus on the lives of miserable working class people being miserable, getting drunk, and then abusing each other. (People often refer to this type of cinema as 'gritty', but what they really mean is 'miserable and depressing'.) Though the Dardenne brothers were quoted by Welsh as one of his main influences, the film's low-budget, interior, hand-held style and focus on character over plot can't help but bring the spectre of 'mumblecore' to mind (I'm going to sidestep my own inner conflict at using the 'm' word, as it serves as a useful shorthand in this context). I won't dwell on this for too long, but I do find the difference of focus (essentially navel-gazing romance vs. drunken abuse) an interesting one, and I wonder if it perhaps says something about the difference in mentality between the US and the UK. I want to make it clear that I'm not attempting to say that one mentality is better than the other, but if I'm being honest I know which one I'd rather watch given the choice (you can find me gazing at my navel on a regular basis, no doubt). Still, I think I've made it clear that Kin is a superb piece of work, and I hope these comment don't detract from that; I sincerely hope that it gets distribution and finds an audience. But, perhaps in the future, us Brits could put the bottles down and instead lift up our shirts to gaze at what's underneath...

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