The Kings of Summer (originally Toy’s House) is a 2013 American independent coming-of-age comedy-drama film directed by Vogt-Roberts. This is the story of three teenagers who carry out a plan to leave their dysfunctional parents, build a house in the woods and live off the land.
They risked an escape.
They conquered a land.
They mapped the wilderness.
They built a kingdom.
They ruled the woods.
They were brave.
They learnt the art of living and there, they lived.
This film, though it seems to be another coming of age/teen film justifying the wits of adolescence, it convincingly conveys many messages that we don’t expect in a teen drama. The director brilliantly used every aspect of this film to convey many beautiful things that can’t be put up in words. The visuals spoke. The cinematography was simply breathtaking. The choice of background score was unconventional yet that strongly established the mood and the theme.
The film began with short tease of how it’s gonna be. Just a matter of few seconds. But, that worked instantly in telling the audience, “Looks good? Wait for it to happen!” . After a while, there was a slow-mo scene of the lead character hammering a woodwork of house model.That was a beautiful foreshadowing scene and more amazing was that they used that to make a beautiful title card with that miniature wood house.
The film took 20 mins to 30 mins to establish a concept that these two kids are not happy with their mainstream lives and they desperately needed an escape. This was also the time they took to establish the supporting roles really well.
There was this character Biaggio for whom they didn’t give much information in the whole film. Almost nothing. This was exactly what made that guy very interesting till the end. The instant affection of other characters towards Baiggio put the behavior of adults in shame. Biaggio was weird. The other two kids found it hard to understand him but they didn’t avoid him. In the biased society where people have hard times accepting each other, these kids beautifully getting along with each other irrespective of their characteristics and weirdness was a strong message to the viewers.
After they moved into the woods, the core part of the film began. Though all their activities were shown like they were enjoying the experience, the film didn’t fail to establish the hardships they faced for the living in a remote place. The chemistry between these characters worked so well. usually in the films which have a very simple,generic story that happens in a limited environment, the creators would’ve tried to built the film with more conversations. But, this film stood out of that by giving more scope for visuals than the dialogues. All the montage like scenes were great.
The film didn’t fail to show the emotional oscillations and the emotionally vulnerability the of teenagers. The change in infatuations over each other and the conflict arises because of that looked very mainstream. At first, i felt like maybe they could’ve removed this whole idea. But, then the film would’ve looked very empty without that. it’s a teen film and there’s nothing wrong in telling the age old teenager problems that everyone knows. Cinemablend.com perfectly put up like this, “Vogt-Roberts direction never minimalizes his characters to devices, allowing each to appear a bit ridiculous, but also deeply human.”
Why is this film worth talking about? What so special? It’s very simple. The film showed that the problems are not always with the teens and maybe, even not with the families. The real problem lies in the space allotted for teens in this society as a whole to live and behave. The film doesn’t say that running into the woods is the solution. Ultimately, it showed how dangerous that choice was. The film used woods to convey the message that the vastness of wilderness is how much space people need to realize a true sense of living. The final shots of the film showing the places they’ve been were empty yet still beautiful visually explains that the paradise is just out there while we cage ourselves within our norms.