Kindling – REVIEW

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Terminal illness stories do have a habit go all out to be tearjerkers but writer director Connor O’Hara’s film ‘Kindling’ is a low key and understated film drawn from his personal experience with a friend and here the film follows Sid (George Somner) who has terminal testicular cancer. The C word is never directly mentioned in the film, an indicator that the film wants to avoid the obvious tugging at the audience’s heart strings. But from the start it is clear how this will end for Sid and it is his friends who return to their home village to spend his last days with him. Kindling is not one of those ‘doing wild and crazy things in your dying days’ but instead Sid wants his friends to gather items that connect them to him before throwing them into a huge bonfire they’ve built, his idea being taken from his interest in astronomy where the burnt particles last forever in the universe. It’s for that reason the world can only hope that Donald Trump is buried rather than cremated.

The initial first act of the film sees the friends, Diggs (Wilson Mbomio), Plod (Rory Saper), Wolfie (Kaine Zajaz) and Dribble (Conrad Khan – excellent in the 2019 film ‘County Lines’) whether this is a nickname due to incontinence is unknown but it’s one we’re thinking of adopting for out Editor (‘You’re fired!’ – Ed) and initially the group just enjoy each other’s company. Introduced into this is Lily (Mia McKenna-Bruce) and like Sid she’s never left the village to go to University though for Sid this was due to his illness whereas for her it seems that, like so many, she was unsure of what she wanted to do with her life. It’s that very specific juncture in a young person’s life that Kindling captures so well – that small window where some go to university whilst for others it’s the end of education and the beginning of their working life but all are still finding their direction in the world. It’s a blooming friendship between Sid and Lily that teeters on the edge of romance but brings about a resentment from Diggs that they’ve come home to spend time with him and he’s spending more of it with her though Sid has not told her about his terminal condition.

Kindling avoids the sentimentality normally seen with such topics and is all the better for it. Somner is ideally cast as Sid, gaunt in appearance and at times his character is understandably withdrawn. The supporting cast are also good with Mbomio as his best friend doing his utmost to be there for him. Mckenna-Bruce is especially good as the slightly flaky but resolutely upbeat bundle of joy in Sid’s life unaware of his illness. Tara Fitzgerald, who should be something of a national treasure, is excels as Sid’s mum who gave up her career as a singer to look after him, employing tough love when it comes to his medication whereas Sid just wants to enjoy what little time he has left. And whilst Kindling avoids the clichés it has an affecting melancholy and bodes well for writer director O’Hara’s future as a film maker tackling such difficult subjects.

related feature : ‘County Lines’ review

related feature : terminal illness themed ‘Babyteeth’ reviewed

Here’s the cast and director at the premiere discussing the film….

Here’s the Kindling trailer…..

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