as a photo instructor, i have an appreciation for what larry clark's photography did. his movies are another matter all together.
as a photographer he opened the festering wound hidden beneath the clothing of suburban america. showing him and his friends, in their nice neighborhoods, shoot up and having sex. as a filmmaker he's pushed buttons and been provocative. making viewers sit through queasy long vignettes of moral-less behaviors.
kids isn't a bad movie, but it is hard to take. sitting through the first quarter or so is difficult because its over the top lewdness is without plot direction. once you're given the plot device, things come into better perspective.
at its core the movie is about a group of hyper-sexed kids with nothing to do in the summer in NY. that first quarter of the movie is all simply battering the viewer with lewd talk about sex. in particular about the taking of girls virginity. its enough trash that i wanted to simply quit watching. i was hoping there was something more redeeming about the movie. next we're treated to the difference of sex talk between a group of the girls and a group of the guys. these parts are not all that out of reality. although its far from normal behavior. finally the plot comes when two of the girls are tested for HIV. the girl with several partners comes out "clean" and the girl who only had sex once with the main character of the film is positive for HIV. she is of course heartbroken and dumbfounded. she spends the rest of the movie trying to find the guy who infected her, who is busy trying to find other girls to have sex with. he, telly, is the main character. his who outlook in life is having sex with virgins and maybe smoking some weed. thats it.
well. it has to be said that while this story is plausible, it is without depth. along the way following this group of kids, we never see them with any interest outside of sex. for two, very brief moments we see a glimpse of interest in skateboarding...(watch closely or you'll miss it). a number of times we see them getting high and drunk. and a few brief mentions of "clubbing" which is also highly related to their drinking and drugs. otherwise, every moment, 99.5%, of this movie is all about sex. sure kids at these ages are raging with hormones, but they have other interests too. the writer has distilled his characters down to primal sex beings. take for instance the group talks; the boys all boast that they've had "lots of ****y", the girls on the other hand have all admittedly had sex (all but one with multiple partners).
you have to view the film then as an unusual group of, as i've said, hyper-sexed young kids. their dispassionate portrayal of this is of course designed to provoke you. and the heartbreak of the failures of this mindset, the death sentance of AIDS, is meant to be a warning...or at least that is how it seems. the randomness of contracting it; the inability to know who your partner has been with; the immortality of youthful naivete.
and then it starts to falter as a movie...
along her way to tell telly that he gave her HIV, she takes a drug that a friend gives her at a rave. by the time she finds telly, she finds him in the middle of having sex with another virgin having used all the same lines and approach as he had with her. what does she do? she walks away, saying nothing, and passes out on the couch. ...ok?...what?... and then we see telly's best friend throughout the movie waking up from passing out and proceeding to rape her while she's passed out. ...WTF?... whatever message they thought they were making with this movie is getting tossed aside for rampant lewdness. and as if to tell us how lost they are in wrapping this movie up, suddenly and for the first time telly narrates a speech about how important sex is to him because he doesn't know anything else. how incredibly shallow this character is. and the final scene is the best friend saying "what just happened?" which is about as poignant as all their best psuedo-ghetto-speech fromt he beginning of the film.
its disappointing. the film had a lot of potential and a message about how tragic life can become when we don't think. its portrayal is so creepily real at times that some people mistake it as a documentary. but in the end its clear that the filmmaker, larry clark, simply enjoys provoking us. he will do so to such extremes as to undermine the effectiveness of his film. its too bad. a better choice would've been to temper some of the language, and to hint more at the actual sex, and leave the viewer to acknowledge and internalize the meaning. as it is its a garish surface that spits in your face and expects you to react. take the end rape scene for example; while unexpected and unnecessary, it lends to the chaos and destruction of this lifestyle. but larry clark decides to linger on and on and on and on, showing us minutes of this act trying to provoke us into gruesome disgust. in doing so, he undermines the initial disgust and shock we already had with it, and it becomes clear its not about the act its about the depiction of it. its the surface without the meaning. and i'm sorry, larry, but you failed this movie.
6/10 huh? well its still has a lot to like despite its faults. its challenging and independent. beats the hell out of not filming it because it won't make money and its not all hollywood picture perfect storybook ending princess pink.