Roger Thomas Review: ‘Kin’ — a film that gradually won my attention

Published 7:32 pm Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The story of “Kin” is many things. It is a story of a 14-year-old boy who is making discoveries as his life changes. It is also a science fiction tale about a weapon that many would like to possess. It is a story about family, the hardships family often create, and the ways family brings comfort.

“Kin” is also a film with violence and other material that should not be seen by those younger than the film’s lead character. This one paragraph may or may not make you want to see the film. I personally was not intrigued in the beginning.

Roger Thomas

The first element of the film I noticed was the lead, Miles Truitt. Truitt plays Eli Solinski. Eli is a lonely boy who spends at least some of his time in condemned buildings.

One day he finds something unique while he is exploring. It is not quite clear what it is at the beginning. Truitt plays Eli, the hero of the story and he is also the most interesting character in the film. Truitt is also the most interesting actor on screen throughout “Kin.”

If you are interested, I would offer a word of caution.

Eli is 14 in the film, but he looks younger. I would have guessed before the film revealed his age that he was 11 or 12. A young boy in scenes of gunfights and an extended scene at a bar all seemed slightly questionable.

During my screening, I began to wonder whether the film should have had an R-rating instead of the PG-13 rating it received.

Then things changed. I still believe the film is very violent. And that bar scene still is a little rougher than I would have expected, but the film kept getting better. And ultimately I cannot deny that I enjoyed more of it, than the parts I questioned.

Here are the strengths of the film.

First, besides Truitt, the other main players do give fine performances. Jack Reynor plays Eli’s stepbrother Jack. His transformation is probably the most dramatic in the film.

Dennis Quaid plays the two boys’ dad. Zoe Kravitz plays someone the boys meet at the aforementioned bar; ultimately Kravitz pays a bigger role in the second half of the film.

And then there is James Franco. He plays his role well, but Franco almost always does.

All of these characters are flawed, realistic even in a future world, and most of all intriguing. I know by the time the film was moving toward the film’s climax, I was just about to the edge of my seat.

“Kin” is written and directed by the brothers Jonathan and Josh Baker. These will be two to watch.

I look forward for their next film. It might be a sequel to “Kin;” they certainly set themselves up for one. But if it is not the “Kin” story, I hope their next work will end strong like this film did.

As I said when I started watching the film, I found it to be a little familiar, slow and not going anywhere fast. I also had a few problems with the story.

But one of thrills of cinema, is the truth that a film can always get better before it ends. Many of them do not, but when we enter the darkened theatre, we can always hope.

“Kin” is one of those films.

Do not get me wrong. I am not saying that “Kin” is one of the best films of 2018. All I am saying is it turned out far better than I thought it was going to be during the first 45 minutes. It is always better for a film to end stronger than it began.

One last note you have probably realized: the three-letter title means something important. It is a synonym for “Family.”

Roger W. Thomas of Albemarle reviews films for The Stanly News & Press.