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USA, 2011, 83 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subject: Dark Comedy
Program: Reel Social ClubLanguage: English
DIRECTOR: David Zellner
Producer: Nathan ZellnerEditor: Melba JordorowskyScreenwriter: David ZellnerCinematographer: Nathan ZellnerPrincipal Cast: Sydney Aguirre, Susan Tyrell, Nathan Zellner, David Zellner
Filmmakers Nathan and David Zellner (Goliath) bring their kooky sensibilities to the screen with the story of a nearly feral 12-year-old girl and her almost catatonic goat-herding father in rural Texas. Annie is a tomboy almost out of necessity. There’s food on the table, though it seems to be hard-won and not plentiful. There’s a roof over her head, but she prefers to run wild in the outdoors. As if to counter the withdrawn and ill-at-ease manner of her father, Annie is brash and aggressive, but unfortunately she has no better understanding of the world or herself than he has. It’s not that they’re not trying to be better people, or that they’ve lost their moorings. They never had any to begin with, and now they’re caught in an eddy of profound ignorance.
Annie pokes and prods those around her, sometimes more gently than others, testing boundaries, maybe looking for her own boundaries. She plays pranks, busts things with a baseball bat, shoots cows with a paint gun. Then one day she discovers a woman trapped in a well, and suddenly her small portfolio of skills and training fails. Her strategies aren’t equal to the task, mostly because she doesn’t know what the task should be. She drops food and a walkie-talkie down the well, but her conversations with the trapped woman stumble to a halt, and rescue seems out of the question. When Annie can’t wrap her head around the situation, she decides simply, “Maybe you’re the devil.”
With an underpinning of absurdist comic moments but a tone more serious than past Zellnerian outings, Kid-Thing is an offbeat, compelling meditation on a discomfiting existence.
- VAL MOSES
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