Director and photographer, Larry Clark’s work is often controversial as it deals with teenage life and sexuality in a very raw and documentary style. His first film “Kids” shocked the country and launched the careers of actors Rosario Dawson and Chloe Sevigny. “Bully” released in 2001 also features a number of great young actors such as Nick Stahl, Brad Renfro (R.I.P.) and Michael Pitt. Bijou Phillips also plays the role of a promiscuous party girl, the same role that she has played in every movie she appears in. This film is also loosely based on a true story of a group of teens from Florida.
“Bully” is a very dark and depressing story of a bunch of bad kids doing a bunch of bad things. It looks to draws more attention to itself for its blatant sex and nudity then for the story it’s trying to tell. But when told within the context of these characters it does seem to fit. Clark’s work is often labeled as exploitive as he dives into to find the most intimate details of a young person’s life (real or created) and throws it out there for everybody to see. This is a story about a bunch of lost and morally bankrupt teens that get together to kill a bully (played by Nick Stahl). His character of Bobby is troubled and sexually confused; he’s gay but is afraid to overtly tell people so he puts up a tough macho exterior to convince people otherwise. His best friend Donny (Brad Renfro) has been taking Bobby’s physical and mental abuse since they were little kids and has finally had enough.
A lot of the story follows Donny’s new girlfriend Lisa (Rachel Miner) who is quickly impregnated by Donny. She hatches the plan to kill Bobby after her friend Ali (Phillips) is raped by him. Sounds pretty crazy huh? This teen soap opera really doesn’t want you to like any of these kids, but you do end up feeling a little bad for them. The absence of the parents or family members is a likely culprit for there misery as these kids go searching for love and acceptance where ever they can find it. Each of them follows one another without any thought of consequence or feeling of right and wrong. After the kids go through with killing Bobby, the guilt and emotional toll hits everyone and all are shortly arrested and jailed. After ten years this film already looks a little dated. But is it a good film? I would have to say not so much. Watch it at your own risk or if you are interested in the work of Larry Clark.