Created as part of Liverpool’s tenure as a European City of Culture, Kicks appears to be a standard football film billing itself as ‘a compelling tale about two teenage girls infatuated with celebrity’. However the synopsis and marketing cruelly underrates the film. The press release states ‘Nicole and Jasmine bond over a mutual obsession for premiership footballer, Lee Cassidy. Fuelled by their fantasy of meeting him, they track him down and before they know it their dream has become a nightmare’ suggesting that this is merely a football fanatic story. Whoever is responsible for marketing has clearly missed the mark as the power in the film lies in the social questions it raises. Teenage adolescence, first love, friendship, fanaticism, football culture and even rivalry are all addressed at least at some level during the film.
Cruelly this is its main strength as the film is stodgy and the script is basic in places. The line ‘I’m Lee Cassidy. You’re just fucking nobodies’ is particulary onerous given that it panders to the cliché prima donna footballer. Subtlety is also a weakness – the burning of papers to signify the purging of an obsession, hugging a tyre tenderly to demonstrate an adolescent desire for love – all begin to grate after a while.
What is gratifying is the new talent within the film. The film is carried by the two young stars – Nichola Burley and Kerrie Hayes – who bring life into the screen and are extremely convincing as two young teenagers fraught with adolescence and desire and brought together through this from two very different backgrounds. The actresses’ attribute this to the concentration of character experienced on set – the time frame to shoot was extremely short as the sets were small – creating an intense experience. This isolation, they believe, aided in their portrayal of their characters adding that the extreme scenes shot with Cassidy (played rather apathetically by Jamie Doyle) were done without meeting him before perhaps adding to its passion and energy.
Kicks is shot in some stunning locations around Liverpool, Eduard Grau’s warm-coloured photography brings life into the most urbane settings such as the Docksides. This beauty is obviously reflective of the financial backing of Liverpool based Northwest Vision and Media but the general message of the film seems to portray Liverpool negatively – characterizing it as obsessive over the media, celebrity culture and obviously its’ football club.
The girls agree that there is ‘huge pride in Liverpool football club’ within the city but defend the film saying that they can either take it as ‘an insult or take it on board.’