Chris Foggin’s feature debut Kids in Love is a film so light and flimsy, it feels like it might float away in the gentle breeze caressing its characters – a group of insufferable trust-fund kids – as they saunter through an idyllic, hipsters-paradise version of London. With more money than they need, unlimited options and problems any ordinary person would wish for, not only is it hard to root for these kids, it’s difficult to even spend 90 minutes with them.
Will Poulter stars as Jack, a middle-class teen about to embark on a gap year with his best friend (Jamie Blackley) before settling into a life mapped out by his father: university, an internship at a law firm and a career as a successful lawyer. Jack isn’t too enamoured with that plan and a chance meeting with the beautiful and enigmatic Evelyn (Alma Jodorowsky) starts him down a different path as she introduces him to her world of long nights and lazy days, lavish parties and little-to-no obligations.
Poulter is a good enough actor to inspire some level of empathy and Jack’s desire to break free from a life he didn’t decide on is something many can relate to. The problem is, it’s hard to feel too bad for someone who’s options are either going to a top university ahead of a ready-made, high-paying career or living rent free and partying all day with very little consequences. There’s no real adversity for Jack to overcome, other than his crush on Evelyn that is never fleshed out enough to feel like more than just an infatuation with an incredibly beautiful girl. Jack’s inner yearning for freedom is so clichéd and unbelievable that his true passion is revealed to be photography, the go-to vocation for any restless free spirit in a movie such as this.
There’s mild conflict in the form of Milo (co-writer Sebastian De Souza), Evelyn’s boyfriend who, as it turns out, pimps out gay prostitutes. The prostitutes seem happy enough mind you, though Jack reacts like he just found out Milo is selling drugs to kids or murdering puppies. Some lip service is paid to how dangerous Milo is but, with all due respect to De Souza, he might be the least threatening screen presence in recent memory. In fact, the only members of the cast who truly convince are Cara Delevingne and Gala Gordon as two sisters living off their dead parents’ wealth and seem to be actually enjoying it.
Kids in Love is an ultimately insipid affair that puts far too much misplaced faith in the likability of its characters. Most of them grate and there’s very little compelling about their middle-class trials and tribulations. With no real thrust to the narrative or any fresh insight into the transition into adulthood, only Will Poulter makes this worth watching.