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A Kind of Hush Review

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A band of King's Cross rent boys seek revenge on the adults who abused them.

★★★★★

While American audiences revel in the middle-class whimsy of Notting Hill, it's pleasing to see that there's still room for a gritty portrayal of society's underbelly, daring to worry more about social issues than blue-painted doors and cheesy Hollywood grins.

Ditching such fluff, A Kind Of Hush centres on Stu (Smith), a conflicted teen torn between spending time with his criminal layabout friends or living sensibly and working in a kitchen with a kindly chef called, as it happens, Chef (Hudd). Despite the attempts of Chef to keep him in line, Stu soon finds himself back with his cronies in King's Cross home to many of the capital's unfortunates.

At first, this motley crew seem like the kind of repellent oiks that would urge hordes of indignant Daily Mail readers to clamour for the re-introduction of public birching. But as the plot unfolds, it becomes clear that the lads' anti-social behaviour stems from their dark past as victims of paedophilia. Finding it hard to come to terms with the violence and abuse they suffered, the boys have decided to exact revenge on their aggressors as self-styled vigilantes.

It's a tough tale but the cast of unknowns an ensemble employed as much for their streetwise looks as for their acting talent - bring an edgy charm to their roles, each character dealing with his horrific experiences in his own way. Smith is a solid central figure, while Hudd shines as the benevolent mentor, a loving and protective father figure concerned that the boys' actions are nothing more than empty victories.

Knowing the sort of blanket disgust child abuse induces, it would've been easy for the filmmakers to play safe and simply pander to an audience's basest instincts. However, debut writer-director Stirner avoids the pitfalls that could so easily have trapped him by painting a vivid portrait of the boys and their bleak environment, while sympathetically - and skillfully - mixing tragedy with compassion and friendship.

A deft take on a tricky subject, evocative and well-played by all.

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