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4 KINGS

★★★

NOT SO MERRY CHRISTMAS

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By Brent Davidson
16th November 2016
We are constantly plagued with images of troubled youth, and too often do we dismiss their issues as just that, as transient as they youth they currently hold onto. But what happens if when someone pushes past these presumptions?

Four troubled teenagers spend Christmas in a mental institution. Away from their families they only have each other (and the staff) to rely on for the holiday season. But do their psychological conditions bring them closer together or make them a volatile cocktail of explosives just waiting for the spark?

First and foremost, this film was billed (to me at least) to be somewhat of a comedy. It's pretty hard to call it that when the themes are so heavy and the performances so real. Don't get me wrong it's not bad, not by a long shot, but a comedy it definitely isn't.

What struck me hardest about '4 Kings' was that it wasn't just about children with issues. The character of the head psychiatrist rebels against the institution and refuses to see these children as their conditions. He sees them as the people they are and this is something the film does as well. It's not issues and children, it's children then issues. Being a teenager is a tumultuous time but having to deal with what these kids does makes you amazed they can make it through.

The head psychiatrist rebels against the institution. It's not issues and children, it's children then issues.

I think the greatest tragedy of '4 Kings' is how in the end the institution wins. It doesn't give too much away but speaks to a system that looks through and not at people. Also heartbreaking is these teenagers relationship with their parents. Tenuous at best, the kings are growing up not only combating their own expectations but the expectations of their misunderstanding parents. Worth the watch but it certainly doesn't make for the most uplifting of Christmas movies.

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