BULLY

Directed by Larry Clark. France/USA. 2001.


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Bully is a script I felt I had to write. Although, very disturbing, it is a story that America needs to see.  Itís very scary whatís happening with our youth. Columbine, Matthew Sheppard, Jonesboro, West Paduka, the list goes on.  Itís time that we wake up to the way many of our kids are living. Bully seeks to give an inside look at what drives kids down these horrible paths of destruction.  When I read the book, it was the first time I felt I could understand how something so tragic comes to fruition.  It gave me an insight I had been longing for, the insight that the media fails to explore. I wanted America to have this same insight.  It is not until we face our harsh reality that we can begin to do something about it.  This movie is not just for kids, most importantly, itís for parents. 

Screenwriter/executive producer David McKenna 


Producer Don Murphy originally read the book, Bully, and with a draft screenplay by David McKenna (American History X), brought it to the attention of Larry Clark, the legendary photographer and director of the cult classic, Kids

"I thought the core of Bully - bored kids with no adult guidance succumbing to drugs and violence - represented the real underbelly of modern America," said Murphy.  "I thought Larry Clark understood that underbelly better than anybody."

Bully. All Rights Reserved.After reading the screenplay, Clark also read the book and found interest in bringing the story to the screen.  "The book has so many stories and back stories that you couldnít show it all. I worked with David and told him what I thought I wanted in the film," said Clark.  "From that, he did a new screenplay and thatís what youíre going to see on the screen. My idea was to keep it real."

Brad Renfro was cast in the lead as Marty Puccio, a troubled teen who is egged on by his girlfriend to stand up for himself and turn on his best friend and abuser, Bobby Kent.  Bit by bit, his allegiance shifts from Bobby to Lisa as his anger grows. 

Itís always a problem when a film-maker says they are making things real. It depends what you regard as reality and how you use the medium of film to show your concept of reality. Generally a free-wheeling camera style and improvised acting (preferably by non-professional actors) conveys a greater sense of reality; if you throw-in a meandering story (or no story at all) all the better. Here the acting looks improvised but itís scripted yet the story drifts along like an Andy Warhol film. 

The makers might regard this as a warning to parents about the reality of their teenage childrenís lives, but this reality is as phoney and constructed as that of Rebel Without A Cause. Bully makes (anti-)heroes of itís misbehaving teenagers. Rather than warning parents itís a sleazy pornographic flick for teenagers to ogle and emulate. 

Nigel Watson
 
 
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