Monday, August 27, 2001 Volume 66, Issue 4


Real-life tragedy lends itself to film in 'Bully'

Grade: B
Starring: Brad Renfro, Rachel Miner
Not Rated
Lions Gate Films

By Geronimo Rodriguez
Daily Cougar Staff

In 1993, a teen from South Florida, Bobby Kent, was murdered by a couple of his friends who were tired of being manipulated by him.

Bully retells this account as described in Jim Schutze's book Bully: A True Story of High School Revenge.

John Baer/Tri-Star Pictures

Brad Renfro stars in Bully, based on a true story. Renfro stars as Marty Puccio, the bully's best friend and killer.

The film begins by debasing Kent's personality and then follows the teenagers as they come together to commit a not-so-well-though-out

In sheer paranoia, the adolescents find themselves trying to justify why they killed their friend.

However, the dramatic, thrilling story isn't just about bringing to light the facts surrounding Bobby Kent's death. It may even be fair to say
that the filmmakers merely employ true incidents as a vehicle to dig into the minds and exploit the lifestyles of today's teenagers.

With Larry Clark as the director, this idea isn't surprising.

As he did in the critically acclaimed film Kids, Clark manages to implement the exploration of young girls' bodies in a story line.

But unlike in Kids, the disturbing, exploitative images captured by Clark may raise questions as to their appropriateness in the film.

How many sex scenes involving teens or close-ups of a young girl's legs do audiences need to see in order to realize that teens are
having sex and thinking about sex most of the time?

If only Clark had stopped while he was ahead, having established a sense of a teenager's reality early in the film, his not-yet-rated film
would be easier to promote as an important, memorable work.

Yes, unsettling films like Bully are worthy films that do well at disturbing the peaceful ideas some people have regarding teenagers.

Clark's directing is careless at times.

Some of Bully's shaky sequences are similar to Roman Polanski's camera work, but not as compelling.

One sequence is simply nauseating, lacking any means of storytelling.

Bully's raw cast does deserve merit for sounding unrehearsed, which adds to the film's realism.

It stars Brad Renfro (Apt Pupil), Rachel Miner (Henry Fool), Michael Pitt (Hedwig and the Angry Inch), Bijou Phillips (Almost Famous)
and Nick Stahl (Disturbing Behavior) as Kent.

Overall, Bully is received best when viewed with an open mind.

Throw out what you don't like and keep the rest. Despite the tasteless exploitation of young people having sex, Clark's film relays a handful
of memorable images of our youth.

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