Pursuing one's dreams rather than embracing the preordained life is the hallmark of many an American coming-of-age drama. Perhaps they do things differently in London. Chris Foggin's Kids in Love doesn't seem to be about the pursuit of anything. It has all of the ambition and vanity of a perfume ad and the beautiful cast to film one, certainly falling into the bottom tier of movies about embracing adulthood.
Screenwriters Preston Thompson and Sebastian de Souza, also co-stars in the film, wrote the script years earlier while still finding their way as teenagers. Perhaps that explains why it's such a trifle with little to actually say about the Bohemian lifestyle it glorifies. The lack of wisdom and experience is glaring in the empty conversations between its characters, all of whom are portrayed by talented actors far better than the material.
Will Poulter is Jack, a gap-year kid contemplating a South American jaunt with his best buddy (Jamie Blackley) before the lawyer career his parents have already mapped out. But Jack isn't really diggin' that life choice at the moment. He's hoping his gap year turns into a "gap life", and an introduction to doing absolutely nothing arrives in the form of the gorgeous free spirit, Evelyn (model/actress Alma Jodorowsky). We know she's spirited from her array of silky flowing tops and endless collection of tiny shorts. After their chance encounter while Jack's drifting through some sidewalk charity work, Evelyn entices him to a local bar where London's hedonistic underground dwell.
This motley crew of the wandering privileged are like every stereotype your grandpa ever levied against "kids these days". Artistic but lazy, relishing in the phony wisdom that comes with nobody ever telling them "no", they don't really do much other than party and talk among themselves without actually saying anything. For some reason the entire community flips over Jack, including posh siblings Viola (Cara Delevingne of Suicide Squad) and Elena (Gala Gordon), who treat him like a new pet they just brought in from the rain. But Jack is too focused on Evelyn to really notice. He falls in love with her instantly, and she encourages that feeling even though she's got a boyfriend (de Souza) who pimps out other dudes. No, really.
The more they try and explain to us that Jack is so special, the more we realize that he isn't. We learn little about him and less about the others in the film's brief 80-minute runtime. Poulter's presence keeps the film watchable with his earnest performance while Jodorowsky is flat overall, relying on her beauty to get by. Meanwhile you wonder why Blackley and Delevingne have wasted their time in minor roles in a minor film.
Even the closing credits, a splashy montage of still photographs featuring the attractive cast, comes across as entitled because the film accomplishes so little. Kids in Love is too self-involved to be weighty, and too cliche to be memorable.
Rating: 2 out of 5