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USA 1995
Directed by
Larry Clark
91 minutes
Rated R

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars


Kids is the kind of film that makes you want to predict the end of Western civilization. Larry Clark,who made his reputation as a photographer specializing in disturbing youth sub-culture imagery, presents his film, a kind of cinema verité video of the same subject matter, not as document of the socially marginalized as did Matthew Kassovitz with La Haine which was released the same year but as normality. That’s what makes it so scarily effective. Of course, we know that reality is a good deal more robust and varied but the success of the film is that it feels entirely convincing in it portraiture of a generation of kids bereft of any moral compass.

The narrative follows the activities of Telly (Leo Fitzpatrick) a truly horrible braggart and his nearly-as-bad friend Casper (Justin Pierce) on the one hand and Ruby (Rosario Dawson) and Jennie (Chloë Sevigny) on the other. The film opens with Telly convincing  an underage girl to have sex with him then describing it in lurid detail to Casper. Meanwhile the girls visit a health clinic to have an AIDS check-up.  Although one might say that Clark romanticizes the girls, particularly as Sevigny and Dawson are attractive young actresses have gone on to respected careers (well, not so much Dawson), but his treatment of the males is unsparing – Telly is such a reprehensible, arrogant, lying little creep that you’ll wish that you could wring his neck.

It’s a credit to all concerned that this portrait of drugged-up aimlessness (there is actually a very dark turn in events which makes it even worse than this) is so effective but, be warned, it makes for unpleasant viewing.  Kids is a bleak film  - that is both its strength and its weakness.




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