Marty (Brad Renfro) is a drop-out surfer whose best friend Bobby (Nick Stahl) is a spoilt kid from a wealthy family who delights in beating up and tormenting him. Marty’s girlfriend Lisa (Rachel Miner) is fed up with Bobby and suggests they kill him. So together with friends Ali (Bijou Phillips), Donny (Michael Pitt), Derek (Daniel Franzese) and Heather (Kelli Garner), they find a hitman (Leo Fitzpatrick) to help them with a plan.
Review by Louise Keller:
Digging deep into the underbelly of modern American life, Bully is an ugly film. It tells a shockingly disturbing story about teenage violence as lives spiral out of control. Based on a true story, it’s a tragedy that such stories seem to becoming more and more relevant in our society. Just pick up the newspaper. ‘Resist drugs and violence’ suggests a t-shirt worn by Marty’s brother. But this film (and Marty) does neither, propelling us into a non-stop tirade of profanities, overt sexual exploration and devastating violence. Occasional black comedy turns into bleakness, as Larry Clark’s obsession with superfluous shots that linger on crotches, breasts, naked bodies and acts of sex, often give the impression of perverse voyeurism. The film would no doubt have more lasting effect, with less of what ultimately seems gratuitous. We are engulfed in the world of these teenagers, who spend their time high on a negative lifestyle of taking acid, smoking weed and having sex. Enhanced by a hip hop soundtrack, the films sets its own rhythm and feeling of reality; at one point the camera turns around and around in a circle, as they meet the ‘hit man’, each face captured. The effect is dizzying, and as nauseating as the murder they are scheming. Nearly as distressing as the violence itself, is the casual way the teenagers set about discussing and planning the murder. The naivety (‘Is he dead yet?’) and total lack of capacity to understand the true ramifications of committing a heinous crime is a real eye opener. ‘Nature sucks’ the hit man observes, as the mutilated body is eaten by crabs. Clark depicts this lost world as a claustrophobic experience, and it’s credit to the young cast who bring the script to life. Brad Renfro is excellent as the troubled Marty, resigned to being taunted by his rich-kid friend; Nick Stahl, wonderfully slimy as Bobby; Rachel Miner as Lisa, the red-haired angel-faced Lady Macbeth girlfriend, whose appearance can alter from innocent to evil, in a split instant. The realisation of what they have actually done hits home with ripple effect, and it becomes clear that there’s more than one bully in this film.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
It’s Larry Clark who’s the bully, a cinematic bovver boy who just can’t help himself. He bullies us into moral indignation as he sets up the scenario of youngsters caught in the emptiness of the modern American dream gone bad. If western civilisation is falling apart at the young seams, Clark is the one to show us, tell us, and ram it down our throats. But where is Larry Clark in all this? He seems to relish the ugly, infertile and nihilistic wasteland he portrays, excusing himself from blame, but catching glimpses of a girls’ crotch (or two) and pandering to our sympathies with intimacy that passes for insight. I do like the girls’ performances in this, though, more so than the guys, and there’s no question that they (the cast), at least, are earnest.
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CONGRATULATIONS to the winners of double passes to Bully.
Tickets will be sent by Becker Entertainment
NSW: Domenic Papa, Alycia Ferguson, Adam Montgomery, Rowan Brownlee, Georgina Bryant, Susan Sitku, Jeneen Lucas, Matthew Elliott, Michael Lai, May Ann
VIC: Franco Schifilliti, Mike Conlon, John Ngiam, Tom Martin
Naomi Miller, Mauro Di Giambattista, Rod Hartman, Lisa Madge, Lina Vallis, Leanne Seedsman
CAST: Brad Renfro, Bijou Phillips, Rachel Miner, Michael Pitt, Kelli Garner and Nick Stahl
PRODUCER: Chris Hanley, Don Murphy, Fernando Sulichin
DIRECTOR: Larry Clark
SCRIPT: David McKenna, Roger Pulis Jr, (Book by Jim Schutze)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Steve Gainer
EDITOR: Andrew Hafitz
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Linda Burton
RUNNING TIME: 112 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Becker Entertainment
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 25, 2002