Kids Return

Two students in a provincial high school commit small acts of rebellion in this subtly modulated and perceptive 1996 feature from Japanese auteur Takeshi Kitano. Observing behavior rather than examining motive, the film follows the two friends as they drift apart in their truancy, one training to become a boxer and the other joining the local yakuza. It's a story as familiar as any Warner Brothers gangster flick, but Kitano is more interested in how Japanese teenagers chafe under the pressure to conform and excel, whether in the classroom, the gym, or the back alley. His minimalist editing and long takes convey the slow, repetitive rhythms that regulate the lives of the two laconic delinquents, who must face the consequences of rejecting such rigid control.

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