Kindling (2023)

April 20th, 2023
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir.: Connor O’Hara; Cast: George Somner, Conrad Khan, Wilson Radjou Pujalte, Mia McKenna-Bruce, Rory J. Saper, Geoff Bell, Tara Fitzgerald; UK 2022, 94 min.

The first feature film of English writer/director Connor O’Hara is based on his short film Infinate, dealing with premature death. O’Hara tries to strike a balance between grief and optimism, but it is up to the audience to decide if he manages to avoid a rather sentimental tearjerker.

Sid (Somner) is about to die from testicular cancer, having been given two years to live, he has managed three, but this summer will be his last, and he invites his best friends to a special celebration of his leaving the planet: Diggs (Pujalte), Dribble (Khan), Plod (Saper) and Wolfie (Zajaz) to celebrate his leaving this planet.

Sid’s parents (Bell/Fitzgerald) are long-suffering, trying not to transfer their trauma on to their son. Sid then meets Lily (McKenna-Bruce), a girl of his own age who has had her own share of trauma and is unsure what to study at university – Sid makes her promise to chose English literature. The two have an ambivalent relationship, with Sid guided by his keen interest in Astrology which inspires him to ask each of his four friends to find tokens relating to Love, Home, Family, Friends and Location. They must all come up with a symbol for these objects, which will be burned at a bonfire at the end of the summer, with Sid hoping to be granted immortality.

It seems churlish to criticise such a worthwhile undertaking as this but Kindling really lacks the sufficient narrative ballast to keep us engaged for over 90 minutes in what largely amounts to a series of episodes with the main message buried in bickering and tantrums. All Sid’s friends want to make his passing a special occasion, but they are not always mature enough to find a way to express their emotions. It is no surprise that Geoff Bell and Tara Fitzgerald are outstanding as the parents, having had the opportunity to work through their loss and survivors’ guilt. In the end, Sid’s wish to be immortal may not be fulfilled, but he has made a lasting impression on his social circle.

DoP David Wright makes evocative use of the surrounding countryside to lighten the clouds of dread hanging over proceedings. Kindling is a labour of love, a way for the writer/director to work through his own experiences, and is admirable as such. AS


Copyright © 2024 Filmuforia