All or a little: "Kiddo" review

English Daily #1
KIDDO (2023) / International Competition
Zara Dwinger
The Netherlands
10.07 10:00 Moscow Cinema, Blue Hall
10.07 17:30, Moscow Cinema, Blue Hall

With her feature debut Dutch director and screenwriter Zara Dwinger takes some of her signature themes — dynamics between family members, finding one's own identity in a normative world — for a drive. Incorporating numerous subtle and explicit references to other films, Kiddo serves both as an homage to the history of cinema and as a compelling road movie about the lively imagination of a child. Eleven-year-old Lu is practically stolen from her foster home by her own mother, Karina, giving a new definition to the word kidnapping. Together, they flee to Poland in search of Lu's grandmother, with the added intention of using her money to buy a house of their own. As always with the roadmovies it’s not really about the destination though, but about the undertaken journey, which puts Lu on a transformative path towards her own coming of age.

Throughout their adventure, the mother's unwavering "all or nothing" mentality gradually gives way to Lu's more balanced "all or a little" approach, showcasing how in some cases a daughter also has to foster her own mother. It’s a sad note to a story told with vivid imagination. Especially when the overly ambitious mother suddenly abandons the notion of finding a permanent home, instead advocating for a life of continuous adventure on the road reminiscent of the legendary duo Bonnie and Clyde, immortalized in the iconic 1967 film. Does Lu succumb to this alluring vision of precarity or does her yearning for a return to reality and some semblance of normalcy prevails? As such, Kiddo poses a poignant question: are the beautiful lies of the movies more compelling than the banality of everyday life? Lu seems to think so, even if it means she has to scream her heart out at least once a day in order to bear the ordinariness of it all.

Sona Arsenyan