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Review: The Rainbow Kid

May 6, 2016

By John Corrado

★★★½ (out of 4)

The Rainbow Kid PosterEugene (Dylan Harman) is a young man with Down Syndrome, who still believes in the power of rainbows to deliver gold.  Living in Toronto and riddled by extreme poverty, he practically has to take care of himself alongside his terminally ill mother.

Eugene sets out to find the proverbial end of the rainbow, in hopes of being able to pay off an eviction notice.  This journey takes him on a bike trip through rural Ontario and puts him in contact with an eccentric cast of characters, some kind and others dangerous.

These encounters make up much of The Rainbow Kid, a captivating and unique film that uses the almost mythic undertones of its coming of age story to take us on a journey that is by turns moving, surprising and even disturbing, fearlessly never shying away from exploring darker elements.

We have been so conditioned to the sanitized way characters with disabilities are usually portrayed on film, that we almost don’t expect the many dark and even shockingly violent turns that this story takes, and that’s precisely what makes The Rainbow Kid so powerful.  Expanding his short film of the same name, first time feature director Kire Paputts shows a sure hand behind the camera.  The enchanting cinematography offers some beautifully captured widescreen frames, and Christine Bougie’s music helps us become completely invested in the offbeat but also improbably heartfelt nature of the film.

Every scene is impressively performed by Dylan Harman, doing a naturalistic job of carrying the film, and affectively portraying his character’s emotional maturation over the course of the journey.  The young actor also performs extremely well alongside the vast landscape of supporting players, including a superb Julian Richings as an aging punk rocker, in one of the film’s most arresting and strangely compelling interludes.  Krystal Nausbaum also does solid work as a young woman who also has Down Syndrome and lives with her father (Neil Crone), at a house where all is not as it seems.

Both moving and compelling, The Rainbow Kid offers a sensitive and respectful portrayal of disability, hurtling towards a bittersweet but realistic conclusion.  This is surely one of the most strikingly unique independent films in recent memory, and a must see for lovers of original homegrown cinema.

The Rainbow Kid is now playing in limited release at the Carlton Cinema in Toronto.

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