London Film Festival 2023: Croma Kid review – A unique coming-of-age drama that shows potential

The coming-of-age subgenre is one that many people recognise and adore. So much so that filmmakers often struggle when trying to add anything new or attempt something different within the tropes we have become accustomed to with these types of films. This a challenge director Pablo Chea has decided to take on head first with his directorial debut, Croma Kid. 

The film starts off strong by introducing a twist into the common family dynamic you would commonly expect. The family here are financially struggling TV magicians who are attempting to bring back their once successful show by themselves. The film explores this issue in a relatively face-value manner, which, for the sake of the film, works pretty well. The growing conflict between the mother, father and grandfather is shown at multiple stages throughout the film as well as how their aspirations do not line up with Emi’s, the child of the family, who wants to do his own thing. 

The way the family drama unravels in the film, though nothing new, is well handled despite barely scratching the surface. When it does choose to highlight these moments, they are consistently well acted and well captured, but outside of a few tender scenes, the film fails to really delve into them further for more emotional clarity.

Where the film does shine, however, is in its presentation and how it uses that to lean towards a supernatural/otherworldly element of the film’s storytelling. The 80s aesthetic Croma Kid relishes in is one that perfectly fits the tone and story it is trying to tell, thankfully never going overboard in the process. It takes a specific style and uses it in a way that adds an extra layer of depth to the themes and messages of the film, elevating other aspects that were otherwise becoming a bit repetitive. 

During its final act, the film takes these otherworldly elements even further, as well as diving more into its 80s style, resulting in a conclusion that is pleasantly satisfying.

Where Croma Kid shines is through its seamless blend of style and substance, heightening what would be a very by-the-numbers coming-of-age film to something that is genuinely engaging and wholly different. On the other hand, as intriguing and as visually creative as the film sets out to be, I do wish they had gone further with them. The film presents just enough to leave you feeling fulfilled by the time the credits start rolling but also with a lingering sensation that it could have explored just a little bit more. What I can say, however, is that for a debut feature film, Pablo Chea has proven himself to be a filmmaking voice to look out for in the future because what he has given us with Croma Kid shows a lot of potential.

London Film Festival 2023: Croma Kid review – A unique coming-of-age drama that shows potential

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