Andi is a hot-tempered, volatile young man who works daily in order to help his 3 children and current partner survive. However, after losing his job while still owing an ex-lover (and mother to one of his children) 5000 EUR, he must turn to the one thing he knows, fighting in a brutal amateur boxing tournament. Written and directed by German native Barbara Ott, Kids Run captures a harsh reality of having to take drastic measures in order to keep food on the table and a roof over your family’s heads.
Andi is not necessarily a likeable protagonist. He doesn’t make sound decisions all the time, and a lot of his decisions stem from angry emotional reactions, more often than not, putting him in bad situations. There is an element of empathy that movie creates for him, but Ott doesn’t shy away from making the audience understand that Andi is not helping his own cause. It’s just a never-ending cycle that leads to more anger.
It’s impossible to not feel empathy however for his children and his current partner. Andi’s anger occasionally spills over at home, and we see the fear that is caused by this, which is then solidly juxtaposed by the love they all have for each other as the bond through adversity. Everyone in Kids Run seems like they’ve been dealt a bad deck when it comes to life’s circumstances, and all hope lies on everyone being able to leave this literal pit of despair and bleak living.
By setting up Andi’s arc this way, Ott has created an incredibly thoughtful and morally challenging story. All you hope for is Andi to grow and evolve, even as life dishes him challenge after challenge. However, forcing Andi to the situation where he must utilise his hot-headed nature to succeed creates a solid amount of dramatic tension. The cinematography heavily focuses on Andi. In fact, it’s incredibly rare if Andi is not in a scene in the movie. This complete immersion into his character doesn’t ever let you shy away from this often-dour film.
While the first hour or so isn’t shy to take its time to develop Andi and the story to come (occasionally feeling slightly repetitive and slow burning), it’s once he begins the boxing competition that the movie picks up momentum. The boxing is gritty and brutal. Each blood-soaked punch hits with a gravitas that will induce wincing through the screen.
Feeling more like Southpaw than Rocky, Kids Run is a drama that succeeds in building its central character so well, that even when he isn’t exactly the type of person you would want to be friends with, you can’t help by be in Andi’s corner when it comes time for him to literally fight for his life.
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