Larry Clark’s films are known for their often controversial subject matter involving young kids and their experimentations with drugs, sex and violence. Bully has a healthy blend of all three subjects only this film takes it all a step further…
Based on the real life events of a group of middle class kids in Florida, Bully tells the tragic story of two friends Bobby and Marty. Bobby is dominant and controlling and often beats Marty, running him down at any moment he can. Enter Lisa, a girl with all the usual strings attached: she falls in love with Marty, gets pregnant and then starts to bitch about his friend (although she has every right to considering he keeps raping her). Lisa comes up with the idea that the only way to solve everyone’s problems is to kill Bobby…
I haven’t read the book Bully: A True Tale of High School Revenge that the film is adapted from, so I am sure that some of the characters’ traits have been embellished for dramatic effect such as Bobby’s fascination with gay porn and his obsessive compulsive actions, although maybe not . In the cast and crew extras someone does mention that the real Lisa commented that the actual murder was not planned like the movie depicts.
Bully definitely holds up to repeated viewing, I‘ve probably seen it about six or seven times as I watched it a lot when it first came out . The murder sequence in Bully is probably the most realistic re-enactment of a murder I’ve seen. The discordance of it all was profoundly effective in drawing you in, my heart still pounds every time I watch it and I always get a queasy stomach. The kids were just so unorganized, not even aware of what they were doing (some thought they were merely giving Kent the bash). It’s one of the most gut wrenching scenes I have ever watched because it is just a complete visceral mess. The kid must have taken forever to die, he pleads with his friends to stop and they just run around stabbing him, some laugh, some cry and some just stare blankly. You have to think these are just your average kids going nowhere, doing nothing but how did it come to this? How could they rationalize murdering someone and not even think of the consequences? If you take nothing from Bully you can’t deny its interesting portrayal of the workings of the teenage mind. Big name actors and glamorization aside, it’s a pretty realistic depiction of drug fucked hedonistic teens. From the clothes to the music Clark has an amazing ability to portray wayward teens in an authentic visual and psychological manner.
If you haven’t seen Bully I’d highly recommend you do.
The Siren Visual release of Bully features cast and crew interviews with Brad Renfro, Nick Stahl, Rachel Miner, Michael Pitt, Bijou Phillips (who is horrifically trashy and so amazing in her role) and Larry Clark; these interview shorts offer some interesting titbits. There’s also a trailer.
- Director: Larry Clark (USA, 2001)
- Studio: Siren Visual
- Runtime: 108 minutes