I don’t know much about MyFrenchFilmFestival, but Rudi Rosenberg’s The New Kid has made me want to study up on the online global collective.
This year, MyFrenchFilmFestival showcased 10 feature films and simultaneously screened them in select cinemas and online via digital platforms like iTunes and Amazon. Philippe Lesage’s Les Démons was also included in the selections, a Canadian film which Wylie Writes’ Shahbaz Khayambashi thought was a solid take on coming-of-age dramas.
The film I watched, The New Kid, absolutely delighted me. The premise sounds too simple on paper (a boy has trouble socializing after a big move and ends up confiding in other outcasts), but just as Shahbaz reacted to Les Démons, I was satisfied by the film’s coming-of-age qualities.
The film boils down to a foreign take on Diary of a Wimpy Kid, only with better performances, a special maturity, and an endearing sense to humour. It also benefits from a subdued shooting style by filmmaker Rudi Rosenberg that is aesthetically borrowed from 2014’s We Are The Best!, but is given its own treatment when the audience views public school through the eyes of Benoît (Réphaël Ghrenassia). Those feelings of frustration and disappointment within shy complications ring true as Benoît is used and taunted by bullies.
This is when Benoît’s Uncle Greg (Max Boublil) suggests the kid throws a party in order to break the ice and win over his classmates. After being convinced, Benoît begins inviting people, but only his fellow outsiders attend. This group includes clueless know-it-all Constantin (Guillaume Cloud-Roussel), a girl with physical disabilities (Géraldine Martineau), and goofball Joshua (Joshua Raccah, who could effortlessly play Cosmo Kramer in a prequel series to Seinfeld). The party does, in fact, break the ice with this withdrawn crowd; leading to new friendships and learning curves as the strangers figure out how to survive school.
The New Kid may be lighthearted on the surface, but it’s funny and authentic at its core. This would be a no-brainer recommendation to families, but there’s an asterisk attached. I’m unsure as to how the French ratings board works, but this friendly flick is not so clean. Alcohol consumption by minors, some very brief nudity, fleeting slang, and a joke about an erection are enough red flags for me to give parents a head’s up – no pun intended.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie