the fresh films reviews

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Bully (2001)

Larry Clark




114 minutes

Chris Hanley
Don Murphy
Fernando Sulichin
Zachary Long
Roger Pullis
Based on a true crime book by:
Jim Schutze

Cast includes:

Marty Puccio Brad Renfro
Ali Willis Bijou Phillips
Lisa Connelly Rachel Miner
Bobby Kent Nick Stahl
Donny Semenec Michael Pitt
Derek Kaufman Leo Fitzpatrick
Heather Swallers Kelli Garner
Derek Dzvirko Daniel Franzese



With the thematic follow-up to his stirringly realistic debut Kids (1995), Larry Clark in many ways has the same agenda: to depict a reckless youth culture in which a combination of cynicism, a lack of purpose and wayward emotions are pulling the kids to the extremes. Only this time, the basis for the project is not a seemingly random glimpse into the lives of street kids, but an astonishing story based on an actual incident about a group of youngsters from South Florida. The outrageousness of the story is balanced wonderfully by Clark's distinctive ability to depict transgressional youth behaviour authentically and more importantly as something understandable, perhaps even justifiable. No matter how you look at it, these kids grew up in a society which made their actions possible. And where you draw the moral line is to a large degree individual, claims Clark by not passing judgment on them. His ability to defuse middle of the road debauchery is a gift to closing generation gaps, especially if it can also make the parent generation able to distinguish between what's harmful and not. In Bully, Clark shows how the kids' need for belonging can quickly lead to peer pressure. And the brilliance of the movie is that once that line is crossed and the kids lose sight of reality, a touch of black comedy is added to make us bear the atrocities and put it all into perspective. It's an expertly directed and visually bold film, with a bunch of young actors giving arguably career best performances in roles that are ideal for them.

Re-reviewed: Copyright 14.04.2021 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang
Original review: Copyright 03.04.2003 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang