Since today is Pink Shirt day or Anti-Bullying awareness day, I thought I’d share with you the most powerful film that I have ever seen that tackles the subject. And it tackles it HARD. Larry Clark’s 2001 ‘Bully’ is one of the most disturbing and hard to watch movies from my lifetime. But it’s essential.
You may remember Clark as the director of 1995’s ‘Kids’ – a similarly themed flick that peels the layers back on how shocking the life of a teenager can really get. Drugs, sex, violence, foul language that makes foul language blush – Clark doesn’t hold back and ‘Bully’ is truly a dark and disturbing feature based on a true story. Adapted from the novel Bully: A True Story of High School Revenge by Jim Schutze, Clark’s movie details the life and murder of Bobby Kent – a merciless and abusive youth played incredibly by Nick Stahl.
I love Nick Stahl and I hate hearing about all the problems he’s having now with drugs. He’s such a wonderful performer and I truly hope we can see more of him again on the big-screen because he’s so damn good in everything he does. Bully is Stahl at his finest. In the movie, Stahl’s Bobby constantly verbally and physically attacks his best friend Marty (played by the late Brad Renfro – whom I also miss and always thought was such a terrific and underrated actor of his generation).
Leo Fitzpatrick returns after several years past his breakout performance in Clark’s ‘Kids’ – is it redundant to say we should all be seeing way more of Fitzpatrick on our TV’s and theater screens? Guy is great – he plays the son in a family that happily promotes organized crime and after suffering far too much at the hands of Bobby’s bullying ways, Marty and his girlfriend Lisa (Rachel Miner), along with Bobby’s “sorta not really at all GF, Ali” (Bijou Phillips), hatch a plan to finally kill him. When pushed to the edge – this is what can happen. If you have time and access to this flick, I highly recommend you watch it, as hard as that viewing could ultimately be mind you… It’s very tough – and pulls zero punches. But it’s still an important experience to see if you can handle it.
A young Michael Pitt turns out an awesome supporting performance here too as Donny, the constantly stoned comedic relief. But even in a film such as this, the comedy eventually turns a little sad. This isn’t Dazed & Confused – it’s more along the lines of Stoned & Sad. The film has sequences of rape, graphic consensual sex, violence and so much cursing that it would give Goodfellas a run for it’s money. Larry Clark made one hell of a movie when he released Bully back in 2001. In honour of Pink Shirt Day – if you truly want to embrace raising anti-bullying awareness, this is by far the best and most powerful movie experience to ever handle the subject.