Director: Adam Simcox
MPAA Rating: NR
Film Pulse Score: 3/10
In a world where everyone has a Cannon 7D (or 5D, depending on your preference) and anyone can make whatever film they’ve been dreaming up since they were a kid, the world of cinema finds itself ushering in new voices at the pace of a waterfall. With that comes the inevitable realization that the production standards to which we so ardently hold dear may just be, legitimately, too high an expectation for many first time filmmakers. There is no greater evidence of this than in the mysterious, albeit it small, bubble of popularity surrounding Adam Simcox’s first feature film Kid Gloves.
A story of the underdog, Simcox doesn’t allow his character a big life changing victory. In fact, he starts Freddy (Victor Ptak) out on the lowest side of low. Weak underachiever Freddy is slow to find inspiration in life, even though he’s happy enough to live it. The story line is clear and comes from a long tradition: underdog hasn’t found himself, meets with frustration and problems at the hands of others stronger than him, then meets a teacher (“wax on, wax off, grasshopper!”) who teaches him what he needs to know to beat his adversary and ultimately become a better man.
For a film written, shot, and directed by a first time director, Kid Gloves makes some very common errors in its construction. Most notably, the director had a hard time framing his shots within a context of continuity. It makes for a bumpy ride in trying to understand what’s going on in the film, even though all the right elements are there in the story. The camera is basically too obvious on the screen, and every renewed awareness of it is another moment the viewer will have to struggle to get back into the world of the film. Horizon lines struggle with the angles they are setup against, tilting left and right, without really accomplishing the tension an angle is so often used to create. Challenged acting doesn’t help the situation, but Simcox would definitely had benefited if he had chosen not to work the camera himself. Lighting is another issue altogether.
Interestingly enough, the film experiments with puppets in a moment when the teacher is giving a lesson in the form of a parable. Some reviews have called this artful, and while I wouldn’t go that far, it does show that Simcox is willing to take a chance in getting the story delivered, and does the best with what he’s got in his micro-budget movie. While I’m not entirely willing to put on the kid gloves in this review, I will note that Simcox accomplished a feat in staying with his film to the very end. If you do the same, you’re at least going to be able to see the most cohesive part of the film. The continuity picks up, and the characters start to make sense together as people in a story about committing to yourself and being able to push back against the odds, even if you’re not going to come out a strong winner. Now that’s a story this director really knows how to tell.