Directed by: #WillJones
This independent short film, Our Kid, attempts to discuss a difficult subject matter: the ability of a small, tight knit family to cope with autism. Or at least that is what is implied, by close ups of the main character twisting his hands in scenes of conflict, avoiding eye contact while holding conversation, displaying nervous tics, and lashing out with anger in situations he can’t control. These are displayed in a series of black and white flashbacks, to differentiate them from the present.
The main issue with this film is that it attempts to handle too heavy a topic without the budget or technical prowess to do so.
The boy with autism is not necessarily portrayed in a positive light, and it is unclear where the audience’s sympathies are supposed to lie. In contrast with the popular tv show ‘Atypical’ which deals with autism in a helpful manner, allowing the audience to observe what life is like inside the mind of someone with autism and understand their struggles more clearly, Jack is barely given any dialogue and the majority of his blocking is either frenetic or violent, which alienates him from the audience. There is much more empathy evoked for the mother who is abandoning him, unable to handle his special needs.
The filming style is muddled and turbulent. There are confusing cuts between shots in an attempt to dramatize the scenes, and the flashbacks do not always add significant knowledge to the main storyline. It is unclear what the message is, besides its portrayal of autistic people as difficult to interact with and having explosive anger issues. There is no significant colour scheme or grading to comment on, besides the use of black and white or grainy home video style found footage used in the flashbacks.
The main interesting aspect of Our Kid is its use of the car as a liminal space for family tensions to play out, but there is no resolution by the ending.