A truly independent American production, Kid-Thing was produced, written, directed, recorded and shot by the Texan Zellner Brothers. And if one of them was a 10 year old girl, they would have taken the lead role as well, but seeing as they're not, the brothers instead play her father, Marvin, and his dumb ass sidekick Caleb. Annie is a 10 year old girl living in a rundown Hicksville town somewhere in Texas. With no apparent friends and a father who pays little attention to her, she lives on a diet that consists almost entirely of sweets (breakfast is a big multicoloured bowl of them, with milk) and spends her days ambling through the streets and surrounding woodland, setting off firecrackers, pelting things at cars and various other acts of minor vandalism. At first this looks like it's shaping up to be a southern fried American take on the social realist work of another hardworking pair of film making siblings, Belgium's Dardennes Brothers. But a couple of scenes in, things take a different turn when Annie stumbles across a hole in the ground and hears an old woman calling for help. She returns with food to feed the mysterious voice, who identifies herself as Esher, but refuses her pleas to help her get out of there. We are now in a quirky fairy tale world where everything is just a little off kilter. The brothers delight in scene after scene of unexpected comic moments that make ingenious use of the locations, props and people they had to hand – a rotting dead cow, a blind guitarist who can sing and play songs backwards (a Kings of Leon number, at a guess), a hypnotised chicken - and the little details - dead cockroaches on the windowsill, weeds sprouting through paving slabs, a tramp sleeping under newspaper at a bus stop. It's worth seeing just Annies unique sandwich making technique. The brothers made a brave choice in casting Sydney Aguire as Annie, who doesn't fit the cute kid role that is normally required for this sort of thing. Instead we get a tomboyish force of nature with a cruel, destructive streak, but who is also sensitive enough to convey a whole host of emotions and to always keep us guessing as to what she will do next.
Annie is girl with no moral compass, thanks to a complete lack of parental supervision. One day, while playing in the woods, a voice calls out to her from deep within an abandoned well, causing her to consider the right course of action.
November 27, 2020