Monday, October 3, 2022

Yard Kings

Yard Kings; drama / short, UK, 2020, D: Vasco Alexandre, S: Elle Atkinson, David Price, Carolina Lazarus, Jermaine Ricketts

After her abusive dad has another harsh fight with her mother, the scared Ellie (9) runs away from their home, a trailer. She goes to a nearby scrapyard, befriends a boy, Pete, and they start making their own home in an abandoned trailer, using old chairs from the junk as furniture. When her father leaves, Ellie goes back to the trailer, picks up her mom and persuades her to move to her and Pete's old trailer, with a bedroom made just for her.

A bitter-sweet depiction of social realism, Vasco Alexandre's "Yard Kings" are, despite all realism, an ode to escapism from harsh realities of life, in this case a violent father who assaults the heroine's mother. 'Raw', rough, minimalistic and ascetic, this short movie works thanks to its two very genuine main actors, Elle Atkinson as Ellie, and David Price as Pete, yet, like most movies that come too close to real life, it also feels slightly grey, monotone, routine and plain at times. Several little details are great at illustraing this "lower class" world (a figure made out of soda cans; the kids taking car seats from the junk to use them as their furniture...), and allows for an astringent-emotional touch. While the style is rather conventional, its messages and themes resonate surprisingly well: the old scrapyard trailer Ellie escapes to is just a variation of her own home, a trailer, showing that she just meanders between two similar worlds at the bottom. The only difference is that at least she can feel safe in this scrapyard trailer, and find an idylic oasis for her mom, even though it is all just make-believe: this oasis isn't even an oasis. Ellie's escape is an escape to the same world.


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