HOLD ME TIGHT, LET ME GO (D: Kim Longinotto, UK). 100 minutes. Saturday (April 19), 9:15 pm, Isabel Bader; April 27, 3:30 pm, Bloor. Rating: NNNN
Picking up where Allan King's cinéma vérité classic Warrendale (1967) left off, the empathetic Hold Me Tight, Let Me Go lingers on the turbulent ups and downs of emotionally troubled children. The Mulberry Bush School in Oxford, England, has 108 staff to care for and educate 40 hard-to-handle kids. Five boys between eight and 12 years old kick, bite, spit and swear at a handful of staff who show unwavering patience in restraining them for their own safety.
The film is compassionate and brutally honest, and the violent acting-out will make some stomachs queasy. Glimpses of the boys' families visiting the school partially explain their problems.
Mulberry's three-year residential program gives kids a chance to re-enter the public school system. As for what happens after their release, they'd be great subjects for Michael Apted's Seven Up approach.