‘Us Kids’ Review: They’re Not All Right

Columbine. Sandy Hook. Parkland. Before the pandemic, school shootings had become so commonplace in the United States that they warranted distressingly detailed charts. “Us Kids,” a documentary directed by Kim A. Snyder (“Newtown”), uses the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., to ask difficult questions about what it means to grow up in an America habituated to gun violence.

After witnessing the deaths of their friends and classmates, the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas were thrust into the national spotlight. The film follows Cameron Kasky, Jaclyn Corin, David Hogg, Emma Gonzalez and Samantha Fuentes as they travel around the country pushing for gun control and demanding accountability from politicians, all while coaching one another through trauma. The film empathetically captures their experiences, from their chronic frustrations with the press and elected officials to the admirable ways they extend grace to each other.

“Us Kids” skillfully handles a sensitive subject and prudently connects the Parkland students’ stories to those of Black students whose experiences with gun violence rarely garner similar national attention. The film generally strikes an optimistic tone — highlighting the resilience of these young activists and the community they created. But no amount of editing or overlaid emotional ballads can shake the unsettling fact that these teenagers, whose lives were disturbed by unthinkable acts of violence, feel abandoned by the systems meant to protect them.

Us Kids
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 38 minutes. Watch through virtual cinemas.

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