The last time I'd seen a Larry Clark film it was the disturbing drama "Kids" which confirmed my belief that we'd be better off putting the little buggers to work in salt mines rather than letting them run free in the streets. (Note to self--find out if there are actually such a thing as "salt mines" as I use that term a lot) Last night I saw his more recent effort, 2001's "Bully", which was unfortunately based on a true story.
"Bully" follows two teenage boys who were best friends, by which I mean one of them constantly beats the crap out of the other, rapes the guy's girlfriend (!!!), and undermines him constantly. Marty, the victim, seems to hang out with Bobby, the bully, constantly for no other reason than social inertia--Marty is a nice enough kid, a talented surfer, which counts for something in suburban Florida, and has a girlfriend with her own social network. (Although, like every other adolescent in this film, these are all basically suburban white trash--which, combined with the cast of "Kids" makes me wonder--what sort of people did Larry Clark grow up with?) It seems all they do is screw and do drugs and drive around a lot and okay I'm not really making my case here--that all seems pretty awesome when you're in high school! But on screen these kids seem like pathetic burnouts.
Bobby and Marty also seem to have some homo-erotic thing going on between them, as Bobby forces Marty to dance for tips when they're at some sort of gay men's dance club, and later Bobby is watching gay porn while he's raping (again!) one of Marty's girlfriend's friends. Strangely, Bobby seems to have affection for his friend/victim, as he apologizes and professes his friendship for Marty even after punching him. Their friendship seems more complicated than simple abuse.
Needless to say, Marty's girlfriend Allie decides that Bobby is a poisonous influence in their lives and the best solution here is to kill Bobby. Okay, there are not enough WTFs to express my flabbergasty here. It doesn't seem to occur to Allie, Marty, or their several co-conspirators that there is a much easier way to get Bobby out of their lives. HE'S RAPED TWO OF THE GIRLS IN THIS GROUP! Why not go to the police with this accusation? Sure, one accusation has the risk of not being proved in court, but with corroborating stories--that both have the virtue of being true--as well as adequate physical evidence and the likelihood that this guy has other victims that may come forward, there's an excellent chance of getting this kid convicted. Would that not make a bit more sense than a gang of amateurs, who frankly don't seem competent enough to shoplift, trying to snuff a rotten, unpredictable thug who sadly is a lot smarter than all of them combined? Especially as Florida loves them some death penalty?
Amazingly, they go through with their plan--enlisting the help of a gloriously mulleted hitman, played by Leo Fitzpatrick who was one of the more horrible thugs in "Kids", who is only marginally smarter than the rest of the gang. They also each spend a lot of time telling others that they plan to kill Bobby, which is brilliant. The actual murder is brutal and sloppy--knives and bats, basically--and the attempted coverup is a comedy of errors. All of these morons were convicted, serving various sentences. And this surprises no one.
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