R | 1h 48min | Biography, Crime, Drama | 12 December 2001 (France)
After finding himself at the constant abuse of his best friend, Bobby, Marty has become fed up with his friend’s twisted ways. His girlfriend, a victim of Bobby’s often cruel ways, couldn’t agree more and they strategize murdering Bobby, with a group of willing and unwilling participants in a small Florida town. In the midst of their plotting, they find themselves contemplating with the possible aftermath of what could happen.
There’s something about the kids in Larry Clark’s films, such as this, Bully, and his 1995 classic Kids (which took place in New York and had the feel of an un-interviewed documentary), where the characters are brought so vividly to life, and their contemplations and actions in their dead-end lives, that I get reminded of the people I was around back in my grade school days (I’ve been out of the public school system for six months now). I remember the lay-abouts, the complainers, the overly medicated, and of course I remember the bullies, laying on abuse that sometimes they weren’t even aware they were inflicting.
Nick Stahl plays Billy, bully among a circle of teenage friends in Hollywood, Florida, and his best friend from childhood is Marty, played with striking intensity by Brad Renfro, has been daily receiving torment, if not with punches and slaps, then more on the mental side. Soon, his girlfriend makes a suggestion “he should be killed”, and very soon after that the circle of friends agree, and then it continues, along with a so-called hit man, a good small part for Fitzpatrick who was noteworthy in Kids.
There will be some out there who may not be able to stomach the elements – it’s unrated, not a bad move, and there are as many moments of sex as in a Cinemax soft porn and as many moments of smoking dope as in a Method Man/Redman production – but that’s all part of Clark’s overall effect, and he pulls it off like a true craftsman and not as a overly exploitation film-maker. This circle of friends are a sad, hollow representation of the kinds of societies the youth of the nation inhabit, and the key is that it’s correct, at least in such a banal suburbia. Grade: A
Director: Larry Clark
Writers: Jim Schutze (book), David McKenna (screenplay) (as Zachary Long)
Stars: Brad Renfro, Nick Stahl, Bijou Phillips