Bully, Larry Clark (2002)

After only managing half of Wolf Creek last week I wasn’t in the mood for being upset by yet more violence. As it happens, along with sex and drugs, violence is one of this films underpinning themes. So I just sighed and got on with cringing at those realistic sounds of people punching each other in the face. Horrible.

The main story involves a group of middle class friends in Florida who have pretty much no direction in life and who only have sex and drugs in common. And there’s plenty of it too. Much of the film seems to be shot to make the viewers feel as if they too are part of the permanent state of high indifference.

The story has about it an inevitable sadness that is always going to end in disaster. The disaffected American youth, living a chaotic life of no direction and reliance on drugs for escapism. This scenario gives the film a dark sense of tragedy that begins during the opening scenes and worsens towards the end.

There are messages for Americans throughout this film. They are mostly about the relationship between the embedded culture violence, lack of education and drugs. In one of the final scenes, Marty’s brother appears with a T-shirt with, Dare to resist drugs and violence?, written on it. Most of all I think the message is about respect. The idea that everyone, even those whose lives societies look down upon, deserves an amount of respect. Even if it’s something as simple as saying their name properly.

This is essentially a Teen movie for grown ups. It’s disturbingly sexy, at times upsetting but also very funny and endearing. Also, it has a superb soundtrack that really adds a sense of menace to the sweaty Florida backdrop.

Essential viewing for anyone disillusioned with the formulaic nature of Hollywood, or for anyone else who wants to see a great film.

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