The first real thing anyone can do when watching an expose on certain aspects of American culture is to ask yourself a very hard question, "Is this real?" I had to do that with this film. Watching Larry Clark's 1995 film "Kids," an authentic and frightening expose of some particularly callous and reckless teenagers in New York City, one cannot wonder if the film is a brilliant commentary on the state of America's youth or is a cleverly exploitive portrait of a corrupted culture. I believe the latter. It depicts, with stunning authenticity, the chilling underside to a culture that abides by its own standards while tossing away the teachings and hard-learned lessons of an elder generation. First of all, I wouldn't believe anyone who says that this movie is hogwash or offers nothing close to a solution. Well, the first question that people should ask themselves is, do they know anyone like the kids in the movie? I do. I recently graduated from high school and I knew several people who were quite like the kids in this film. This film set out to do one thing: to show American parents, "Hey, these are your kids. Do you know what they do when you're not around?" Thoughtful people will ask themselves that. This is a film that deserves a thoughtful audience as a thoughtful crew made it and took the risks associated with bringing such harsh subject matter to the screen. Like last year's "Thirteen," "Kids" shows youth on the edge. These "kids" are perfectly amoral and addicted. These kids aren't all right; they're extremely dangerous. There isn't a whole lot to the story, other than it chronicles an eventful day in the life of Telly (Leo Fitzpatrick), his friend Casper (Justin Pierce) and their inner-circle of similar-minded, sex/drug-crazed associates. Telly has made it a duty to "deflower" as many girls as possible and later brag to his friends about his latest conquest; but by day's end, guaranteed, he would've done it again (a record for him to do two girls in one day). The main conflict of the story surfaces about 30 minutes in, when Jennie (Chloe Sevigny) discovers that she had contracted HIV from Telly during their first sexual encounter, and it becomes her mission to track him down before another young girl shares her fate. This is one powerful and dangerous film that is not for the faint of heart, as it is authentically bleak. There is no hope for the characters in the end; that is just how realistic this film is. The film is also filled with shockingly real images, and a wall of furious sound to drive home its key points. These are the kids of yesteryear, the forgotten generation; these kids are America's worst nightmare because they are young, dumb and just do not care; the fact that they do not care makes them especially dangerous. As I stated before, the imagery is extreme and frightening. If there ever was an honest thing these kids ever did, it would have to be willfully giving change to the less fortunate (a man with no legs who rides a skateboard on the subway). We also get images of younger children, swearing, drinking, smoking, talking like adults; trying to fit in with their peers who are not much older than they are. I was actually quite frightened by some baby pictures of our main character and then I see what's on screen. Then-newcomer Leo Fitzpatrick puts a face on a sleeping monster in America: the doomed generation of young people that disregard older generations completely and follow their own set of corrupted values. Telly is reckless and stupid; it is impossible to really sympathize with his character, even though we probably are. But it is difficult to do so, mainly because of his preference for deflowering girls younger than him (the first girl we see him with is only 12; he's about 15 or 16) and that could open up discussion for Telly possibly being a borderline pedophile. Where are the parents? One could very easily ask that question. Strangely enough, Telly lives with his mother and baby brother. She is the only parent in the film and she seems as every bit as irresponsible as her misguided son. Watching "Kids," I couldn't believe how real it is, how it sucks the viewer into its dark, dangerous, and seductive world; it's easy to see how a weak person could believe that what goes on in this movie is cool. It begs the most fundamental question any responsible person could ever ask, "Do you know where your children are?" It is a question that every good parent should ask when their teenage son or daughter steps out that front door and into the "real" world. "Kids" 10/10
A day in the life of a group of teens as they travel around New York City skating, drinking, smoking and deflowering virgins.
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May 2, 2019