The less you know going into Kire Paputts’ first feature, the better.
I’m tempted to leave it at that as The Rainbow Kid isn’t going to be for everyone. However, I owe it to anyone reading this to at least tell you enough to decide whether or not you’d like to submit yourself to this somewhat disorienting experience.
Eugene (Dylan Harman), a 19 year-old student with Down Syndrome, is fixated on rainbows and the mythical pot of gold at the end of them. When his mother starts missing rent payments and Eugene needs to start Googling words like “eviction”, he grabs his bike, packs some sandwiches, and sets out to follow a rainbow to the riches that lie at the end.
Naïve to the ways of the road, Eugene’s optimism and best of intentions could have easily made for an uplifting though potentially dishonest film. Viewer beware though. The outside world that Eugene encounters is not always friendly. He encounters several characters on his journey; some genuinely kind, many majorly eccentric, and others undeniably evil. It’s a dark world out there that Eugene seems to only partly understand.
I keep going back and forth on whether to call the film itself “dark”. Dark things happen, to be sure. But through the eyes of its protagonist, The Rainbow Kid finds a tone that is potentially hopeful. As sickened as you may be by some of what you’ll see, Eugene’s devotion to his mission endears us to him.
It’s either a really dark movie about a truly good heart or a really good-hearted movie about a truly dark place.