The embarrassing discovery of a misspelling on the banner for this months' LAMB MOTM, whose name I mistook for being "Buddy", could be seen as a foreshadowing of my experience of actually watching this movie. Bully, although only one consonant away from it, is anything but a movie called "Buddy".
Based on a real story and the book written by Jim Schutze, BULLY centers around a group of lazy teenagers that do little less than sleep with each other. One of the kids is Bobby, who treats his "friends" like s*it, especially his childhood best friend Marty. One day, Marty's new girlfriend Lisa decides that the Bully must die. No one disagrees.
If you're searching for a discomforting and unsettling experience, with anything in it that could be described as sick, inhuman, immoral or similar - except cannibalism - you'll hit the jackpot with Bully. It's a story that has a lot of ingredients I love in movies, some I like, and some that make for interesting, challenging watches but I know will upset me in a bad way. The first group (ingredients I love) are the teens and the splash of coming-of-age. In this case however, they don't really come of anything, although they go through some typical coming-of-age phases and actions. There is also the crime element - who doesn't love a good crime story? In this case however, we already know who did what, why and how, so it's more of an insight scoop on the crime. Ingredients I like are the psychologically disturbing elements and character treats, the social commentary/ criticism and Los Angeles setting. But now to get to the core of it all: ingredients I do like but don't enjoy. These are thought-provoking and discomforting in a great way, something I need to experience once in a while but really rather wouldn't sometimes. That's hard drugs, a loooooooot of sex including rape (I'm not prude or anything, The Dreamers is one of my all-time favorite movies, but I don't think anyone would really enjoy the scenes in Bully), teenage pregnancy and prostitution. And we're not talking Pretty Woman prostitution, but the Mysterious Skin/ Christiane F sort of thing.
So where does all of this leave me with Bully? This is not a movie I enjoyed. It's a movie that made me want to dig a big black hole in the garden and hide in it - either that or surround myself with sunshine, rainbows and innocent little children for a month. I would want to re-watch Bully anywhere in the vicinity of the next, say, 10 years. That being said, I do think it's a great movie, and in that way, it was an enjoyable experience. One that tested and probably crossed my boundaries and made me face some conflicts and perceptions of life that I don't usually consider. It's a well-directed, well-scripted, well-acted movie and I have nothing to complain about it whatsoever. So in the end, I appreciate the fact that this depressing and thought-provoking indie got chosen to be the LAMB Movie of the Month, because I got the chance to watch something I had never heard of and maybe would've never seen otherwise.
written by David McKenna & Roger Pullis
★ Brad Renfro, Bijou Phillips, Rachel Miner + more (incl. Michael Pitt)
FINAL FRAME: STRAWBERRY