Written by: #BenWoodhall
Kingdom tells the true story of Jack Newman, a 16-year-old member of the church of Jehovah, and closeted homosexual, and acts as a sobering reminder that whilst we like to think of ourselves as a tolerant society, we’re still a long way from actually being one.
We’re brought into the film with a simple but effective motion animated intro, which foreshadows what could be considered the defining moments of our protagonists young life. Dedicated to his faith and his family but unable, and unwilling to deny his feelings, Jack Newman is involved in a secret love affair with an older man named Matthew. One night, upon his return home, Jack’s sister, Susie, catches the pair in a passionate embrace; setting off a chain of events which will force Jack to confront both his faith and his sexuality.
Harry Winchester gives a marvelous central performance as Jack; never once faltering in his delivery or bearing. But there’s also a very good supporting cast present too: Zoe Vaux-Thompson, Jeremy Todd and Lauren-Nicole Mayes complete the concerned but not at all supportive Newman family and Blair Robertson stars as Jack’s lover, Matthew, who’s harbouring secrets of his own. There are a few problems here and there with lines of dialogue falling flat or feeling slightly forced amongst the supporting cast, but nothing really problematic.
Kingdom is a really well put together film whose #cinematography (by Raffa Ramos) and soundtrack (by Alex Mills) act as the narrator during the film’s beautifully framed contemplative shots; silent of all but the haunting soundtrack and ambient sound. But the film’s greatest achievement, at least as far as I’m concerned, is the startling efficacy it has to create that sense of alienation, abandonment and confusion that Jack must have felt; it’s inescapable and almost sickening.
Once Jack’s secrets are brought to light by his sister, he is confronted about his “sins” by church representatives: Jack sits on one side of his kitchen table, and on the other, three church representatives and his parents glare, accuse, judge, and, ultimately, denounce him until he “...repent on these sins…”. In a way, this one scene – which is foreshadowed during the animated intro – perfectly summarises Jack’s predicament; he himself rightly says, “How can I be sorry for something I have no control over?”.
ABOVE: the official movie trailer for Kingdom.
The message is loud and clear: and whilst this film is specifically telling Jack’s story, with the church of Jehovah as the antagonist; being bathed in a sinister and cult-like radiance, it’s not hard to imagine how it could apply to any young #LGBTQ person trying to come out to those around them and the sense of loneliness that can come from feeling like you have no one to talk to or nowhere to go.
Kingdom left me wanting to know more about Jack’s story: it ends agonisingly quickly and on somewhat of a cliffhanger. But this is a tremendous first effort from Faktory Productions, who have made a heartbreaking and powerful film: no, it’s not perfect, but any problems the film does have are quickly drowned out by the sheer amount of raw emotion and talent on-screen.
There is much to contemplate here, but if you take only one thing away from this film, please let it be a deeper respect and understanding of the courage young #LGBTQ people need to possess just to live their lives.