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It seems that the reviews of this movie are rather bleak because people
say that the director focused too much on sex and that this was not a
realistic picture for teens. I watched the movie, and read the book,
and I have another reference source- my mother was a juror for the
court case State of Florida Vs. Ali Willis and Donny Semenec. She was
sequestered for over a month and was told every piece of information
about these two teenagers and their friends.
This sex/drug filled movie is a spot-on represenation of these kid's sad life. They had no future, no regrets, didn't go to school and yes, they had sex with each other a lot. From what my mother says, if you were to make a movie about them accurately, it would have to be close to 75% sex. The bully was bi-sexual and would force his best friend to have sex with him after he had raped his girlfriend. These kids were also not poor white trash, as their parents were very wealthy, and they drove nice cars.
I think the fact is some people cannot stomach the idea of these kids being real, so they blame the director for not interpreting the story correctly. This is a story of middle- upper class kids, kids like your sons and daughters.
I thought this movie was very good. 7.5/10
The teenagers viewed at the center of Larry Clark's "Bully" seem, at
least to me, to really have nothing going for them. They have sex
almost on a constant basis, drink, smoke pot, drop acid, and have
reckless, meaningless lives. It might appear that "Bully" could
possibly be a darker continuation of his 1995 outing "Kids," which also
focused on endangered youth, but I think the questions at this film's
core run deeper.
No doubt "Bully" will provoke outrage and controversy; those feelings are warranted, as they allow for intelligent discussion about the characters and events in the film. With this film, Clark's direction certainly seems a lot more focused, polished, and has much more outside appeal than "Kids."
The story centers on Marty (Brad Renfro) and his subliminally sadomasochistic relationship with his so-called "best friend" since they were kids, Bobby (Nick Stahl). Marty is your average teenage surfer-bum. He's dropped out of high school and is constantly picked on by Bobby. Marty befriends and eventually impregnates his new girlfriend Lisa (Rachel Miner).
Rachel sees and quickly grows tired of Bobby's constant humiliation of his "best friend" and suggests to Marty that one way to deal with Bobby is to kill him. So they call upon the "Hitman" (Leo Fitzpatrick) to help with the dastardly deed. From that moment on, Marty, Rachel, and several others embark on a path that is littered with boasting, lying, and guilt-ridden feelings about what they're about to do. No question that these teenagers get what comes to them in the end, and the build-up to that moment is quite intense.
If there is one thing that people can agree on about "Bully," it's that it is frighteningly accurate and true to life. The film, which is based on an actual murder that took place in 1993 in Florida, is quite authentic. Larry Clark even journeyed to the actual Florida suburb where the murder took place and the members of the film's young cast even take the names of those that were involved.
The cast is perfect; not a single terrible performance. If there's one thing these kids agree on, it's that Bobby deserves to die. He's just a bully, and a rapist to boot, who does the deed for the cheap thrill of it. There is no question that Bobby is perhaps one of the most loathsome characters ever depicted on film. He may be a closet homosexual (he has an obsession with gay porn; he takes Marty to a gay bar and forces him to dance on stage while the patrons stuff dollar bills into his pants; and his violent actions towards Marty and Lisa could be his way of dealing with those repressed desires) and he is a sociopath who may have been pushed to these limits by his tough, but loving father.
But look at the bigger picture: they're not killing him for the fact that he could be a homosexual; Bobby's murder is even more terrible for the simple reason there is no clear warrant for it. In fact, their actions aren't motivated so much by revenge, as it is jealousy. Most of these kids work low-paying jobs at fast food restaurants and live off of handouts from their ignorant parents. Bobby is on his way to college and looks to work with his father in their own business, which strangely enough, Marty takes up as a part time job.
Like "Kids," Clark makes good use of imagery. One of the film's closing shots says a lot more than a teacher ever could: Marty's younger brother stares sadly into his eyes, wearing a t-shirt that says "D.A.R.E. To Resist Drugs And Violence." Powerful imagery indeed. And also like "Kids," he makes good use of people much younger than the main characters; they talk, drink, and act like adults, and they haven't even hit puberty yet.
Much has been said about Clark's tendencies to zoom in on and focus on the anatomy of his young cast. True there is much sex and nudity in this film, but I think it's beside the point. Clark is simply trying to capture the reality of today's troubled youth - how sex and drugs are pitiful attempts at giving meaning to their lives.
"Bully" is an excellent exploration of the youth of today's dark and troubling times in America. Like "Kids," it's a film that's meant for intelligent discussion, beyond the usual controversy and rage that's custom for movies like this.
I watched this movie five days ago and I'm still affected by it. Afterwards all I could do was cry for the youth of America, because this isn't just some movie. It really, truly happened. The actors turn in outstanding performances as teenagers with nothing to do but turn to sex and drugs to fill the empty voids in their lives. Nick Stahl is particularly amazing as Bobby, the boarder-line psychotic who tormented his friends until they could take it no more.This is a sad, realistic look at how many teenagers really do act with their peers. Don't look for your typical teenager fare here because you won't find it. The language, sex, and drug use may bother some people, but thats because no one wants to believe that young adults can be this way. Well, I got out of high school two years ago and I can tell you that this is not far from reality. Thats probably why it has affected me so much...because I know that stuff portrayed in this movie really does happen. This is a great movie. Watch it. Then go tell your kids you love them.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a interesting and frightening film, worth a viewing by every
parent of teenage children. Whether they know it or not, their children
at least know children like these; they are living in a world that
includes this reality. Some of the best insights are in the portrayals
of the parents.
Every one of them believes that their child has fallen in with the wrong crowd, and they are all right. What they don't seem to be able to conceive of is that their child IS part of the wrong crowd and why it is wrong. None if then could be described as a good kid being lead astray, but all of them, except the psychologically monstrous Bobby, do have some appealing, or at least pathetic qualities, and might have been saved by adult intervention. But there is none and they are lost from the beginning. These parents can't see their children, don't know their children, seem to be afraid of them, afraid of confronting them either because they fear losing them or pushing them into even more destructive behavior. They seem to care, but not enough to risk embarking on a messy intervention. They only want to relate to them as the accessible children they used to be.
So the children (even though are 16-22, they are emotionally 8-10) are so addled by drugs and alcohol and sex that have no concept of the reality and consequences of actions. They do seem to have a good grasp of the one fact that their lives are essentially hopeless, what they are doing is unsustainable and can not lead to anything but self-destruction. They know it, but it is no more real to them than a video game. Nothing is real; you just hit the replay button and do it over. And there seems to be no one in their world, but other teenagers just like themselves. This includes the "hit man" they have mistaken for an adult, more competent than themselves, able to lead them in safely freeing themselves from the sociopath who main interest in life is controlling them, torturing them, convincing them they are worthless and helpless. It is gut wrenching to watch them deteriorate, individually and as a group, in the face of the actual murder and its aftermath.
Watching them is like watching school children hijack their own school bus and accelerate toward a brick wall: watching the crash in slow motion, fascinated and helpless, seeing the expressions on their faces change, seeing them looking at one another, saying "it wasn't my idea, I didn't do it, I didn't mean it" as the gap closes. The conclusion, the prison sentences, is devastating.
Controversial director Larry Clark's based on real-life events "Bully"
is sometimes quite hard to watch, but you can't quite stop yourself
from watching the misadventures of these messed up children either.
This film feels so real, so nitty-gritty, that at times, you may feel
like an intruder, watching someone else's life. These children are so
far removed from being children, it is hard to think that they actually
are just children. After all, the concept of a group of kids killing
their so-called friend, well, its hardly child's play now is it? The
cast are great. Brad Renfro is top-notch in all his performances, here
is no exception. Bijou Phillips is great, Rachel Miner is cunning,
Kelli Garner is a lot of fun, Michael Pitt is slightly annoying, but
entertaining nonetheless. Nick Stahl is intense, to say the least.
Of course it would be hard to say you condone the actions of these "kids", after all, they murdered. But it makes for gripping drama. The film also reveals the sentencing which the kids received for their parts in the murder, some of which was very surprising. A great film, but you need to be in the mood for a hard-watch.
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
I watched this movie because I had seen Kids and thought that it was a pretty well directed movie. I base a lot of my movie viewing on directors and I figured that I would give Larry Clark a shot. I knew nothing about the movie before viewing it, I didn't even read the back of the DVD. This movie was one of the most astonishing films I have ever seen and I have seen a whole lot of them. The fact that it is based on a true story amplifies the impact. I will definitely read the book that it is based on and would recommend this film to my peers. As a warning, there is a good bit of nudity, strong language, and violence. But if you can sit through it, its worth it!
Very real and compelling portrayal of a murder involving a group of
teens growing up in suburban Florida. I could relate to the characters
on many levels. Growing up in suburban Philadelphia I could have easily
replaced the characters in the movie with people I in knew in my youth.
It was a rude reminder of just how easily things can spiral out of
control if you get involved with the wrong crowd and put yourself in
such a precarious situation.
Although there were some parts of the movie that seemed over dramatized, it captures the violent and self destructive lifestyle American teens are exposed to, and the story is very well told and acted. Some might be put off by the crude sex and violence, but if you are able to look past that it a very entertaining movie that I would highly recommend.
Raw, realistic, deeply disturbing and haunting film about a group of
recently graduated high school kids whose lives are aimless and empty. With
nothing better to do, they get together to plot the murder of their mean
best friend (Nick Stahl), who was the only one bound for college and to make
something of himself. With none of your usual Hollywood gloss and a well
selected cast (especially Stahl in a creepy performance), this film has many
powerful moments and completely draws you into it's story. Shockingly
enough, based on a true story.
Unrated; Strong Sexual Content, Graphic Violence, Profanity, and Nudity.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Larry Clark first shocked the film world in 1995 with the explicit and
relentless 'Kids'; and that's the movie he has become known for, and will be
remembered for. However, Bully is a superior movie in every
Unlike Kids; Bully is not an aimless attempt to shock the population. It is evident throughout the movie, with the nihilistic view of sex and murder, that Larry Clark's main intention here, like with Kids, is to shock the viewer. But here the shocks aren't gratuitously over the top (with the exception of the actual murder), and because there is a plot, the shocks are allowed to become more shocking as we can care for what's going on, not just see the shocking images. Also unlike Kids, Larry Clark has put more emphasis on the characters and they are built up somewhat, unlike the cold shells we were presented with in Kids. Of course, the characters in this movie are based on actual living people and are not just works of fiction and therefore they are bound to have more depth.
Bully is based on the true story of a group of kids that killed their mean friend in order to end their problems. The character of the 'bully', played to perfection by Nick Stahl, is presented in a manner that very much makes him the villain of the piece. However, at the same time; the bully is given a human element; it is obvious that he's not a true villain, but rather a sexually confused teenager and therefore, when he is killed; the audience is made to feel guilty for wanting him dead, and we can therefore identify with the other characters throughout their guilt. And this is a great thing for a movie to do; Bully takes us on an emotional roller coaster ride and therefore it is a hard movie to forget. Unlike Kids; we're not shocked by what we see, we're shocked by what we feel and this makes for some very uncomfortable viewing.
The entire cast of Bully excels in their roles, and that's just another good point to add to Bully's already impressive resume. All characters involved are made believable and they all have their contribution to the story and none are lost within the film, and therefore, they all manage to stand out from the others.
Bully is impressive in many ways; the story is presented well and we are able to care for it, it is well acted, well characterized and the direction is more than competent. Overall, Bully is a great, if uncomfortable roller coaster of a movie, and it is therefore recommended to those that want to see movies that break the Hollywood mould, and movie fans in general.
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