Reviewer's Rating 2 out of 5  
Bully (2002)
18

From its frank opening line, it's clear that we're in Larry Clark territory. "Bully" is the latest voyeuristic examination of teenage debauchery by the man who gave us "Kids".

We start by hearing Marty (Renfro) giving phone sex to an older man at the suggestion of his buddy Bobby (Stahl), who also encourages him to enter into a striptease-for-money contest at a local gay club. Theirs is a deeply troubling relationship - the college-bound Bobby physically and verbally abuses his far less intelligent pal, who can't seem to break free of his tormentor.

The duo hook up with a couple of girls - single mum Ali (Phillips) and her less experienced sidekick Lisa (Miner). Falling in love with Marty, a pregnant Lisa is appalled by Bobby's behaviour- which includes raping both her and Ali -and comes up with a macabre solution to their problems...

Based on a real-life Florida killing - the subject of Jim Schutze's book "Bully: A True Story of High School Revenge", this is another of director Clark's wake-up calls to American society.

His white, suburban characters could hardly be said to be materially deprived, yet emotionally they inhabit a chilling vacuum. Their boredom is only partially alleviated by their efforts at instant gratification, whether it be in the form of sex, drugs, alcohol, rap music, or video games.

There are echoes in this disturbing story of both "Lord of the Flies" and "Macbeth", although Clark finds some morbid humour in the group's clumsy attempts to finish the job off.

Yet the film maker seems torn between shocking and arousing the audience. He's chosen a highly photogenic cast, and takes every opportunity to film them naked. There's something troubling about a film which, on the one hand, wants to take a moral stance about a lost generation, and on the other relishes shooting the nubile flesh of its young actors.

End Credits

Director: Larry Clark

Writer: Zachary Long, Roger Pullis

Stars: Brad Renfro, Nick Stahl, Rachel Miner, Bijou Phillips, Leo Fitzpatrick, Michael Pitt, Kelli Garner, Daniel Franzese

Genre: Drama

Length: 112 minutes

Cinema: 1 March 2002

Country: USA

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