RR Films: Children Performing

Apparently, the leader of the free world acts like a child. Just as we thought. But I’ve seen plenty of child actors who behave better and more politely than Donny, even when left home alone for the second time. I’ve even seen children acting rationally and maturely, both in films and real life, so it is possible that Donny-boy may surprise us one day and do something that adds value to others’ lives, not just his own.

I’m asking this week about which child screen performances have impressed you. We’ve mentioned Quvenzhané Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild and Ellar Coltrane in Boyhood in previous weeks but there are plenty of other impressive youngsters. I’ll leave the decks clear by picking Mark Cousins’ fascinating documentary A Story of Children and Film which, if your mind goes blank, provides many examples of performing children from cinema worldwide.

What films featuring child roles would you recommend?

22 thoughts on “RR Films: Children Performing

  1. Am I allowed three noms?

    If so, Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver, Tatum O’Neal in Paper Moon and Drew Barrymore in E.T, plus a special mention for the whole cast of Bugsy Malone.

  2. Tati’s Mon Oncle with Alain Bécourt as Gérard, and it’s spiritual twin, Takeshi Kitano’s Kikujiro’s Summer, starring Yusuke Sekiguchi as Masao.

  3. 1) Ponette

    Victoire Thivisol was four when appeared in this (1996) and she won the Best Actress Award at the Venice Film festival. She plays a girl whose mother has died and they had to have a child psychologist on set to make sure she was ok. She had to cry in a few scenes and told the psychologist that she had “a technique”. She asked the director to pretend to tell her off.

    The scene where various children discuss what happens when you die always knocks me for six. “You go to heaven”. “No you don’t. You go under the ground, I’ve seen it”..

    Link to trailer with French voice-over as the American English one was horribly cloying and misrepresented the film rather badly

    2) The Color of Paradise
    1999 Iranian film about a widower with two daughters and a son. The son is blind and goes to a specialist boarding school. The father intends to marry again and thinks that the boy will be a hindrance in this ambition. A beautiful film in many ways including (interestingly) visually. And the boy is great in it.


  4. Donds for Bugsy Malone.

    Two of my favourite performances from minors are

    Haley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense,


    Dakota Fanning in Man On Fire.

  5. Plenty of scope this week –

    1) David Bradley in Kes, unforgettable film, unforgettable performance, particularly in the football match !!
    2) Almost the entire cast of “Hue and Cry”, which was one of the very early Ealing comedies and most were schoolboys (though in reality the stars were about 30 years old !!)
    3) Enzo Staiola, the child in “Bicycle Thieves”, another unforgettable and heartbreaking performance

  6. Asa Butterfield in “Hugo” (he was 13 at the time) and also in “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas”, when he was 11.

  7. I’m making my way through Sarah’s recommendation list and just watched The Florida Project a few days ago. The acting by the kids is just amazing, but it was mentioned here a couple of weeks ago so I’ll go for a film I watched on Japanese TV a few years ago.

    School Days With a Pig (that’s the English title anyway) is a true story about a primary school class that adopts a pig with the intention of killing it for food at the end of the school year. The kids are completely unscripted for these amazingly tense debate scenes that are totally realistic.

    • Glad you mentioned The Florida Project, panth: the girl is particularly good (at being naughty). It was going to kick this topic off but, as you say, I used it a few weeks ago.

      While I’m here, I’ll just name-drop Alex R. Hibbert in Moonlight. Another totally believable performance.

  8. I’m going to go German with this one… Das doppelte Mädchen (the original version of The Parent Trap), and a hilarious Bavarian comedy called Wer früher stirbt ist länger tot (The earlier you die, the longer you’re dead), where a young boy whose mother died in childbirth is convinced that he’s responsible and will go to hell unless he can achieve immortality.

  9. I just watched The Road with Kodi Smit-McPhee, and his performance deserves a mention.

    But my seventh thought was Anton Glanzelius as Ingemar in My Life as a Dog and I like that.

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