Updated: Jan 19
Directed by: #VascoAlexandre
A 9-year-old from an abusive household builds a new home for herself in a scrapyard nearby.
Yard Kings reminds of films like Room and Mud, where it places most, if not all, its weight on the performances of child actors. Vasco Alexandre takes his charming script, simultaneously taking the challenge of directing young actors, and animals, which is (perhaps) infamously difficult. But he does so diligently and skilfully. Yard Kings follows a young girl who has been forced astray from her abusive household, instead choosing to hang out with her friend in the scrapyard. Together, they build their dream home, with beds, showers, and even a throne.
Elle Atkinson’s portrayal of Ellie is genuine, raw, and real. She shows true leadership skills in her acting, taking on the duty of being front and centre, providing a good sense of character understanding and a naturalistic quality. Alongside her, David Price as her friend Pete, though not as strong with line delivery, is still a good companion and does have some shining moments. The direction for both these young actors by Alexandre is pretty close to flawless. And, considering this film was largely made during the UK’s lockdown, all the elements are superb.
Yard Kings is presented in 4:3 which gives it a more rustic look, with beautiful colour grading by editor and colourist Aiden Tobin. There were some notable scenes where a few more beats should have been left before cutting, but the crispy vibrance and locations are a visual treat. His work on cinematographer Jakub Rogala’s frames are a fine addition, and together, accompanied by Elliot Herrington’s music (which brings out childlike innocence), make Yard Kings a surprising gem.
Like aforementioned, the film places all focus on two performances from child actors. It’s a difficult task to direct young talent, but it seems like Alexandre decided to have a more collaborative relationship with the two, and this aided their performances considerably. All members of this production are students, which honestly blows my mind. The creativity flowing from Universities across the country and overseas makes me incredibly excited about the future of cinema. Even if the surviving life of the cinema experience is flickering away as of now, the future seems pretty bright. I do believe we will bounce back, and look at all the talent just raring to go. Yard Kings is a must watch, if only to get a sense of that talent.
Watch the trailer for Yard Kings below.