This Neo-Noir detective story from 2020 is about a child detective who is haunted by a case that he could never solve.
As an adult he is still working in the same small town, his life on hold, respected by no one, working on trivial cases, and still traumatised by the past. It’s a film about the loss of innocence and not being able to grow up.
The Kid Detective follows the expected genre tropes of Noir: the washed up loser detective, a tricky case to solve, the main character being given the runaround, although this isn’t a pointless quest. And, as usual, one of the real mysteries he needs to solve is getting over himself.
The film is shot in a straightforward, contemporary style, in colour, without any Noir visual references. It’s an attractive film to watch, and the performances are solid, which is a good thing because it’s a slow burner.
The film has been compared to Brick. I think it is more together, and a more satisfying story. It follows in a long cinematic tradition, from Under the Silver Lake, going back to The Long Goodbye, and The Third Man. These are stories about shattered loyalty, people in positions of trust who are not what they appear to be, realising ones own limitations — lost or alienated protagonists observing the world around them.
The Kid Detective confidently navigates and expands on this story form. It’s a homage that surprises and adds a contemporary twist, while staying clear of cliché or delving into parody.