Parents' Guide to


By Kat Halstead, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Poignant drama about male friendship; language, drug misuse.

Movie NR 2023 94 minutes
Kindling movie poster: Five young men sit together in a field, a fire burning behind them.

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This debut feature from writer/director Connor O'Hara is a moving tale of a young man with terminal testicular cancer that manages to be heartfelt and poignant without feeling manipulative or cliched. Kindling focuses on relationships -- primarily the friendship between five young men, but also the complex interactions between Sid and his parents, who at once try to protect him and make the most of the time they have left. Yes, death looms over the film, but it is also full of life. The young men show a childlike innocence as they run through fields, climb trees, and roll around in the countryside -- it's likely no accident that a particular image of them carrying wood toward their makeshift bonfire is reminiscent of Stand By Me. There are plenty of touching moments, like when the group check themselves for signs of testicular cancer beneath their clothes, or talk of how they're five only children who became brothers. Their ability to communicate, support each other and show vulnerability make this a welcome expression of the deeper side of male friendship, rarely portrayed on-screen in such an easy, unlabored way. The movie's subject is heavy, but the result is never dragged down, given lightness by O'Hara's gentle hand and honest, natural performances from a strong young cast.

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