WHAT would you do if you were given a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease? Be frightened … depressed … angry? Actress Sue Wylie was all of these – but after meeting an unusual young man who released his tensions with free-running, she turned her diagnosis into a play and now a film which is by turns inspiring, moving and funny.
Kinetics, which received its premiere at Dorchester’s Plaza cinema, began as a work-in-progress at Dorchester Arts Centre. The play was performed a few times around Dorset, including with Artsreach, before being toured more widely.
What Sue discovered was that the story resonated with many people and that there was a real demand for Kinetics to be seen by as wide an audience as possible. And so Kinetics the film became a serious project, and thanks to the wonders of crowd funding (by Kickstarter), the project became reality, to the delight of a capacity audience in the Plaza.
The words of the play are largely used for the film script, but the wonders of movie-making in the 21st century allow us to see the story of Rose and Lukas from many different perspectives.
Rose is a 50-something drama teacher facing an uncertain future. Lukas is a very bright student who feels alienated from his peers and frustrated by the school curriculum. He seeks release through parkour, the extreme sport also known as free running, which involves jumping on and off buildings, running and running … Both Rose and Lukas seek freedom in movement.
Film director Tom Martin shows us the developing relationship between the two protagonists. We see the thrill and danger of parkour from the air. We watch (hearts in mouths) as the free-runner takes off in the night over the side of a building and into the dark beyond.
In some ways Rose and Lukas are both trapped, and Kinetics shows how exploring movement – whether it is letters on a Scrabble board or feet flying through the air – enables these two people to communicate and support each other in their very different challenges.
It is really important to say how good this film is. It is really professional, beautiful to look at, very well acted (Sue Wylie, Roly Botha as Lukas and Steve Eaton Evans as Mr Burton, who provides one of the laugh-out-loud moments), with a compelling, witty, intelligent, thoughtful and passionate script, and some great camera work.
If anyone feared it would be worthy and important but perhaps not fun, their worries will be swept away in the first few minutes. It deserves to be very widely shown – as a first class film and a moving investigation of facing up to a devastating diagnosis and finding a fellow spirit in an unlikely setting. (Lukas literally falls out of the sky at Rose’s feet).
There is an added dimension to this story which adds to a sense of fate in the production. Rose/Sue has Parkinson’s, Lukas is diagnosed with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – a condition which is often “treated” with the drug Ritalin). Parkinson’s Disease is caused by, among other things, a loss of nerve cells in part of the brain called the substantia nigra. This leads to a reduction in dopamine in the brain.
No-one knows exactly what causes a person to have ADHD, but some researchers have looked at dopamine – a neurotransmitter – as a possible contributor to the condition. Dopamine allows us to regulate emotional responses and take action to achieve specific rewards. Put simply, it is described as being responsible for feelings of pleasure and reward.
So there is a completely unexpected connection between Sue, the Parkinson’s Disease sufferer, and the student parkour free-runner, who might suffer from ADHD.
Screenings of Kinetics are already planned at Bridport, as part of a health week, and at Bristol and London. Visit the DT2 Productions website for more information – www.dt2productions.co.uk/film/
FOOTNOTE. Kinetics returns to the Plaza at 6pm on Tuesday 6th February, by popular demand.