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Christopher Jordan Wallace, Christopher Meyer, and Jahking Guillory in Kicks (2016)

3 out of 4 stars

Title
Kicks
Written by
Justin Tipping and Joshua Beirne-Golden
Directed by
Justin Tipping
Starring
Jahking Guillory, Christopher Jordan Wallace, Mahershala Ali
Classification
14A
Country
USA
Language
English

How far would you go for a pair of sneakers? For most, about a block or two. But for the 15-year-old Brandon (Jahking Guillory) at the centre of Justin Tipping's sharp feature debut Kicks, the answer would be to the moon and back. That's because Brandon lives in a rough-and-tumble patch of Oakland, Calif., where a fresh pair of shoes might just be the teen's ticket out of a lifetime of disrespect and crime. So when his black-and-red Air Jordans go missing, it's as if the very fabric of Brandon's reality is torn asunder. Tipping, who also co-wrote the polished script, captures this unique mix of adolescent anxiety, urban decay and societal friction in a remarkably confident fashion, pushing what could have been a trite coming-of-age tale into a confident riff on Vittorio De Sica's The Bicycle Thief. And as the young hero at the centre of the tale, Guillory displays astonishing depth and heart. To summarize: Run, don't walk.

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