Director: Chris Brown
Cast: Savannah Bailey, Hunter Gilmore, Kai Kellerman
Watch The Other Kids online in the UK: Flix Premiere
High school just got real, promises the poster for Chris Brown’s film, The Other Kids. It might sound cliched, but it’s a claim worth staking: teen movies walk a fine line between real and artificial, able to lose any sense of truth in the hard-to-navigate maze of self-aware references, wise-cracking banter, gross-out humour and potential melodrama. It says a lot that one of the most accurate teen documents of recent years is Netflix’s American Vandal, a spoof true crime series based around the question of who drew some dicks on several teachers’ cars with spray paint.
In a way, The Other Kids falls into similar territory: not quite a documentary and not quite fiction, Brown’s movie is a beautifully honest snapshot of life in Sonora High, California. It’s the result of a commendable collaboration with the teens of the town, not just filming them go about their lives, but actually getting them to do it too. The film’s unusual strategy pays off twice over, giving Brown intimate, unrestricted access to their day-to-day troubles, but also making sure that his subjects can craft something equally engaging and sincere.
That’s evident just in the way they talk: we see normal people hanging out and discussing mundane, normal issues, such as clothes, sex and, of course, graduation. Joe finds himself courted by the military, a possible career path that doesn’t appeal to his friend. Most, though, are simply uncertain about their future, with the pressure of college options applied by parents keen to explain that they do have choices only making it worse. A relationship between one girl and her Mexican boyfriend, meanwhile, raises questions about his status in the country – while another outsider finds charming companionship in a new transfer student, who sports eye-catching blue hair shaved down one side of her head.
Throughout it all runs that vein of sincerity, with the film never racing to contrive a story or force events – this is a laidback 90 minutes that is happy to craft a low-key slice of reality, without ever outstaying its welcome. Unlike the people at its heart, this teen movie confidently knows exactly what it’s doing, never putting a foot out of line.
The Other Kids is available to watch online exclusively on Flix Premiere.