Intense, dirty debut drama with Jannis Niewöhner as a former amateur boxer fighting for his children.
Frankfurt – The story would almost be over after just a few moments: At the last moment, a little boy saves his father from dying in the ring; only in a dream, but still. However, life is not kind to Andi either, whom Jannis Niewöhner embodies as a ticking time bomb: the former amateur boxer has been shimmying from one job to the next since he suffered a fracture of the base of his skull in his last fight. The only meaning of his existence are the three children, whom he cares for with rough tenderness.
Because Barbara Ott doesn’t bother with explanations during her directorial debut, many things remain uncertain at first, but later become self-explanatory, for example the question of why the two older children don’t live with their mother: Isabel (Carol Schuler) obviously can’t even do it worry yourself. Andi shares custody of Baby Fiou with his ex-girlfriend Sonja (Lena Tronina). He still loves her and wants a fresh start, but things are going in a completely different direction: Sonja has lent him a few thousand euros to pay his rent debts. She now wants the money back, otherwise he will never see Fiou again. She has a new boyfriend anyway, who obviously doesn’t live from hand to mouth, and she wants to go away with him.
“Kids Run” takes place in environments that are rarely seen on ARD and ZDF
“Kids Run” takes place in settings rarely seen in the middle and upper class stories of ARD and ZDF. Ott and her cameraman Falco Lachmund also designed the blue-grey, consistently achromatic pictures accordingly: They appear dirty, raw and unpolished, indoor and outdoor shots do not radiate any well-being, and if at the beginning, Andi wakes up after the usual stress with the children makes the way to his unskilled work, even as the morning fog moves through the city, the sadness is just as complete as later, when dingy slushy snow covers the sidewalks. This fits in with how Niewöhner created his role. At first glance it might seem surprising that such a sought-after actor would choose such a small production, but the role is multifaceted and therefore a real challenge, not to mention the excellently choreographed boxing scenes.
It is precisely this element that stands for the courage of the director, after all her film has to stand comparison with world-famous role models. Striking but effective, she cuts from an illegal fight in which Andi lashes out madly at his defeated opponent to a sledgehammer (he works for a demolition crew). During the fights, Niewöhner can show what he’s physically capable of, but Andi’s inner conflict only reveals itself in relation to the children: they are ultimately his only purpose in life, but they are also a millstone. He rarely has a good word for her, and sometimes he moves close to fisticuffs, because Nikki and Ronny (Eline Doenst, Giuseppe Bonvisutto), both of primary school age, seem to be just as unable or even subordinate as their father. On the other hand, he experiences the few moments of peace with them that Ott allows him.
|And I||Jannis Niewoehner|
|Michael||Sasha Alexander Gersak|
The two children seem just as authentic as the whole film, the Kazakh Lena Tronina is an interesting new face. How good the script must have been is shown by the cast of some tiny roles with sought-after contributors, including Peter Schneider as house manager, Ronald Kukulies as foreman and Sascha Alexander Geršak as Andi’s fatherly friend Mikael, who urgently advises him against the planned comeback: Andi discovers one Advertising poster for a boxing competition. He is convinced: If he wins the tournament, which is endowed with 5000 euros, Sonja will choose him again. Mikael suspects that Andi is risking his life by returning to the ring; promptly the circle closes at the start.
Tuesday, August 9, 2022, 10:45 p.m., ZDF, Mediathek (video available until August 27, 2022)
“Kids run” on ZDF: an almost fairytale ending
The fact that Ott ends the story openly, but at least not without a glimmer of hope, is an almost fairytale ending compared to the realism of the hundred minutes before. After her debut for ZDF in 2018, the director shot four episodes for “Deadlines” (2021 on Neo), a refreshingly malicious and politically incorrect dramedy series about four Frankfurt friends who are faced with important decisions. Her most recent work is the Netflix-made girlfriend drama Für Jojo (2022). ZDF is showing “Kids Run” to kick off this year’s “Shooting Stars” debut series. (Tilman P. Gangloff)