Kindling is now available to rent or buy.
Most of us spend our teenage years living life to the max, never considering our own or anyone else’s mortality, until the death of a grandparent, parent, or friend suddenly invades our lives, turning our world upside down. Sid (George Summer) has been living with cancer for three years and hasn’t long left. Sid has been battling testicular cancer since his late teens, and despite treatment, it has spread, leading to a terminal diagnosis as his twenties come into view. He is one of the 1% diagnosed yearly with testicular cancer who will die, a figure that remains way too high. His mum (Tara Fitzgerald) gave up her singing career when Sid got sick to care for her son, and his dad (Geoff Bell) wants to spend every minute possible with his son as the hourglass runs dry.
Due to his diagnosis, Sid never had the opportunity to go to University like his mates, but if he had, he would have studied astronomy. Sid’s plans for his last summer reflect his passion for science as his best friends return home to their small English village. Sid asks his friends, Digs (Wilson Mbomio), Dribble (Conrad Khan), Plod (Rory J Saper) and Wolfie (Kaine Zaijaz), to collect something of personal significance that represents love, friendship, family and location. Their items will be burnt on a giant bonfire as a final celebration of their friendship and love for one another. As Sid says, “When something is burned, its particles are released into the atmosphere and last forever”.
Directed by Connor O’Hara and inspired by his experience of losing someone at a young age, Kindling is as gentle as a summer breeze and as beautiful as a star-studded sky. Every performance has a natural, unforced quality as it layers its celebration of life and friendship with deep emotional themes of mortality and grief. Here George Summer’s tender portrayal of Sid dovetails the acceptance of his illness with a desire to find meaning in the final weeks of his young life as he brings his friends together one last time while finding a new connection with Lily (Mia McKenna-Bruce). At the same time, Mbumio explores Dig’s need to support his best friend while attempting to navigate the reality of the situation. Meanwhile, Khan, Saper and Zaijaz beautifully explore the individual reactions of each boy to the impending loss of their friend and brother.
O’Hara ensures Kindling never falls into melodrama or the forced emotional manipulation of so many teen cancer dramas as he explores friendship, love and togetherness by allowing each character the space to navigate their feelings. But where Kindling truly excels is in its exploration of male love, friendship and emotion. O’Hara celebrates male friendship and the ability of men to display love and intimacy with each other while also encouraging open conversation around male health and wellbeing. There is a beautiful scene where Sid and his mates are sitting and talking about his testicular cancer diagnosis, and each boy quickly puts their hands down their pants to check themselves. It is these unforced moments that make Kindling so beautiful, tender and natural as Sid and his friends say their final goodbyes in the warm glow of a mid-summer sun.
MY LEFT NUT
HERE ARE THE YOUNG MEN
Kindling | United Kingdom | 1hr 34min | 2023
Kindling excels in its exploration of male love, friendship and emotion. O’Hara celebrates male friendship and the ability of men to display love and intimacy with each other while also encouraging open conversation around male health and wellbeing.