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Bully (2001, Nick Stahl, Bijou Phillips)



After his debut feature Kids, Larry Clark moved the scenario for his second film from the east coast of America to Florida but very much maintained his theme of exploring the life of kids who, for whatever reasons, don’t represent the American dream.

Nick Stahl plays Bobby Kent, bright, still at school and destined for college. He’s also a bully and a rapist, bossing around his ‘friend’ Marty (Brad Renfro), abusing Marty’s girlfriend Lisa (Rachel Miner) and raping her friend Ali (Bijou Phillips). As they live their lives in malls, fast-food restaurants and dead-end jobs, so Clark widens the circle of teenagers who hang out with each other until, one night, when Lisa says, ‘I want him dead’, they become a murderous gang. Hiring incompetent hitman Leo Fitzpatrick (the lead actor in Kids ) to help them, they lure Bobby out to a lonely spot and murder him, almost as incompetently as they live their lives. And, in the final moments of the film, such are their lives that they can’t help bragging about the killing which eventually sees them arrested, tried and imprisoned.

Clark’s film is based on a real-life 1993 case. His skill is to get his largely young cast to effortlessly portray the vacuous life the killers lead, where sex, drugs and booze are the only entertainments and where parents are well-meaning but just have no idea what their children are up to or having done to them. Graphic in terms of the portrayal of sex and violence, the film grips through its honesty and perception – the characters are not endemically evil (not even Bobby) and actually not very likeable, they are simply (and this is the tragedy Clark shows) the product of a society that only cares about high-flyers and has no reach-down for those who don’t quite make the grade.

production details
USA | 113 minutes | 2001

Director: Larry Clark
Script: Jim Schutze, Zachary Lang,

Brad Renfro as Marty Puccio
Nick Stahl as Bobby Kent
Rachel Miner as Lisa Connelly
Michael Pitt as Donny Semenex
Daniel Franzese as Cousin Derek
Bijou Phillips as Ali Willis
Leo Fitzpatrick as The Hitman
Kelli Garner as Heather Swallers
Nathalie Paulding as Claudia
Alan Lilly as Mr. Puccio