The Kid (15)

Two different movies seem to have been bolted together here, one a memoir of a horribly abusive childhood in council-estate Croydon, the other an everyday story of rise and fall amid the opportunist frenzy of the 1980s.

It's been adapted from Kevin Lewis's bestselling book with aching sincerity but not much else by Nick Moran, charting Kevin's path from bullied schoolboy to underworld fall-guy; having been hit most of his life, the 17-year-old boy (played rather wanly by Rupert Friend) finds troubled release as a bantam ("The Kid") on the illegal bareknuckle fight scene. While this tale of survival is astonishing, its telling needs more light and shade, especially in the performance of Natasha McElhone who, uglying up as Kevin's awful mum, begins on an hysterical note of four-lettered nastiness and never wavers from it thereafter. It's a pity, because one senses that the film is skimping on the really vital aspects of Kevin's life, such as the relationship he strikes up with a sympathetic English teacher (played by Ioan Gruffudd), and overplaying the script's somewhat gormless voiceover.