Drink, drugs, domestic abuse and yet 'Kisses' is one of the sweetest films you'll see this year.

With the countdown to Christmas in full swing, writer-director Lance Daly's award-winning 'Kisses' is right on schedule. The Galway Film Fleadh's Best New Irish Feature tells the story of two kids Kylie (O'Neill) and Dylan (Curry), who run away from home. They spend an unforgettable day and a terrifying night in Dublin city centre.

The film captures the contrasting hardiness and vulnerability of the two leads, which is reflected in their surroundings. Seen through their eyes the banal, bleak suburban landscape of home, is contrasted with the buzz and bright lights of the city, which revokes its invite once the lights dim. 'Kisses' offers a realistic depiction of Dublin, the beauty and the beast.

The tweenies still have one foot in innocent childhood and the other itching to escape the supposed sanctuary of home, to forge out their own future. Superbly written by Daly, he focuses on what lies in the balance; he questions whether it's possible to change your destiny, to escape the shackles of your upbringing. Is ambition a luxury of the well heeled? The innocence of these kids is threatened by the ugly face of abuse and violence, yet there is still hope and it lies in their hands.

Daly and casting director Nick McGinley uncovered two great talents in their young leads. O'Neill is electric as a tough, loving, foul-mouthed Kylie and its difficult to take your eyes off Curry even for a moment, in case you miss one of Dylan's delicately revealed nuances.

Following on from his appearance in Daly's 'The Halo Effect', Rea makes a short, surreal but perfect cameo, as a role model who empathises with the kids.

Daly portrays the various moods of his characters 'Wizard of Oz' style. He uses colour saturation techniques to reflect the children's unhappiness at home and their change in mood as they get further away from domestic abyss. The simple effect is both beautiful and compelling and unburdens the plot from unnecessary dialogue.

Accompanied by a great soundtrack, including Bob Dylan classics, 'Kisses' is a simple, universal story told very well.

Taragh Loughrey-Grant