Review: Kensington

Directed by Matt Ferrucci and written by co-star Michael Marc Friedman, an Ivy League-educated, uptown therapist is forced to move his practice to Kensington, the roughest blue-collar section of Philadelphia. Starring: Mather Zickel, Kim Director, Michael Gantz and Andrea Grano.

Opening on a classic sporting chant, in this case for the Eagles, is an interesting choice because it immediately sets a very brash, overt tone but doing so over a blank screen balances that out with some mystery. One that becomes very clear as the visual materialises, because this film at its heart is a love letter to the city of Philadelphia and its people, the way that the film is littered with a variety of shots of the neighbourhood, brings through that care and dedication to community very strongly. It’s something that’s consistent throughout the film, it really adds to the atmosphere that it creates, it has it’s feet firmly on the ground but also incorporates a modern style and feel to it that works really well and allows the flow of the film to slow down a little and break itself up to show the passage of time in a very smooth fashion.

Its direction feels familiar in some ways, there’s a Spike Lee influence coming through and you can’t help but to draw comparisons with Silver Linings Playbook when it’s set in Philly, involves therapy and brings through that fierce Eagles fandom. It’s a style that feels very easy-going, there’s a casual confidence to it that very subtly draws you into the story without really noticing, then as the first few minutes pass, you find yourself totally engrossed in it. The writing is unexpected, charming and funny, it’s down to earth but in a very relevant and modern way, that’s a surprise to see. It presents Bobby (Friedman) as a very stereotypical, closed-off, masculine type with a demanding wife which is actually a really clever way of subverting your expectations and play on the typical ‘judging a book by its cover’ idea, when it reveals that he’s actually a fun, open-minded, sweet guy. That progression of the story is really something to watch because it’s so natural and engrossing, it’s so easy to be drawn in by and utterly entertaining to watch. The writing also introduces just the right amount of an awkward atmosphere to keep things firmly in reality and relatable, which working together as a whole creates something endearing.

Friedman and Zickel lead the show here and the latter really brings through that edge of elitism, finding himself in a working-class neighbourhood and feeling entirely out of place and uncomfortable, and even more so in the way that he speaks to his clients so it’s interesting to see him adapt. Friedman gives a brilliant performance as Bobby, it’s so natural and charismatic, he’s surprising and sympathetic as well as bringing through a little humour. Director and Grano are both great additions, they get less screen time but they do still make an impression, Director has a solid chemistry with Friedman, and the same goes for Zickel and Grano.

Kensington is charming, funny and surprisingly riveting, it has a confidence and charisma to it that effortlessly draw you into its story. The lead performances by Friedman and Zickel each provide very different perspectives but they play off of each other nicely. It brings through an interesting view of Philadelphia starting out as viewing their ferocious fans of the Eagles from the outside, seeing it as aggressive then slowly pivoting to the inside and seeing the dedication and devotion, which is well represented by the direction clearly capturing a love for the city.

Verdict: ✯✯✯✯

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