We’ve all seen her. Hanging around on the fringes, a lonely, slightly pathetic figure outside the training ground or the football stadium gates, face painted like a geisha’s, her ripe, too-young body poured into a figure-hugging, sprayed-on dress. She hunts the nightclubs in a pack; wannabee models/actresses/whatevers out to bag a celeb and move up to WAG status. Hard eyes shining with a mix of cynicism, naiveté and ambition, she’s the girl who gets gangbanged at the team Christmas party, who is heart-breakingly proud to tell the tabloids that the players said she was a good shag, who can always be relied upon to get her tits out for the lads. She’s the girl who just wants to be loved and knows that the best way to be loved is either to be famous or to be with someone famous.
Playing like a Merseyside-version of Misery, KICKS skilfully dissects Britain’s obsession with celebrity culture as its two teenage wannabee WAGs Nicole (Kerrie Hayes) and Jasmine (Nichola Burley) kidnap the object of their affections, swaggering footballer Lee (Jamie Doyle), in an attempt to stop his transfer to another team. What starts out as a lark, with the girls leading Lee on with the promise of a threesome (he even willingly allows them to tie him up!), swiftly spirals out of control when the girls’ true agenda is revealed and Lee’s misogynistic inner-lad rears his ugly head.
Dark and edgy, KICKS explores the hollow ambitions of the Heat-generation without ever demonising its teen protagonists. Left to her own devices by her working mother and playing second fiddle to her father’s shiny new family, the lonely Nicole has become fixated footballer Lee. Similarly, the spoilt Jasmine sees Lee as her ticket to a celebrity lifestyle. Shy and withdrawn, Nicole gravitates towards the more glamorous, popular Jasmine while Jasmine sees in Nicole a friend who won’t be too much competition. Drawn together by a chance meeting outside the stadium and their shared obsession with the star player, the girls bond and fantasise, the fast, feverish intensity of their friendship echoing that of the murderous teens in Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures. They’re not the predators they want to be; they’re vulnerable, neglected schoolgirls struggling towards womanhood and both Hayes and Burley give intense performances of subtle honesty. As the object of their affections, the swaggering Jamie Doyle is cocksure and repellent, the right mixture of arrogance, easy charm and rampant misogyny you’d expect in a Premiership footballer.
Just as the teen protagonists haven’t a clue what to do with their victim once they’ve got him trussed up in a caravan down by the docks, the film isn’t quite sure what to do either, losing its way in the melodramatic and predictable last 20 minutes but until then KICKS is a tense, enjoyable little British thriller with a welcome undercurrent of melancholic yearning.
Kerrie Hayes, Nichola Burley, Jamie Doyle