Intriguing doc looks at the depiction of children in film over the years.
A STORY OF CHILDREN AND FILM (Mark Cousins). 101 minutes. Some subtitles. Opens Friday (January 31). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NNN
In A Story Of Children And Film, Mark Cousins follows his epic documentary The Story Of Film: An Odyssey with a smaller, more intimate project exploring the depiction of children in motion pictures from the silent era to the present day.
Using home video footage of his young niece and nephew at play as a contrast, Cousins flips through dozens of film clips from a century of cinema to see how filmmakers have shaped the performances of child actors for the screen.
His thesis is established with a brilliant cut from Shirley Temple's carefully composed theatre-kid adorability in 1935's Curly Top to the purity of Margaret O'Brien's work in Meet Me In St. Louis just nine years later. From there, Cousins expands globally to consider child actors' performances in key films from the UK, India, Australia and China, among others.
It's an intellectual exercise more than an emotional one, and Cousins's enthusiasm for squeezing in just one more example of a given reaction means he winds up repeating his points more than once. But those points are pretty intriguing, and if nothing else, you'll come away having been introduced to two or three movies you'd otherwise never have discovered.