Friday, April 06, 2012

'Bully' Broke My Heart in 17 Places

Saw "Bully" last weekend, but haven't had the stomach to write about it until I finally saw the good news that the notorious non-censoring censors -- aka the Motion Picture Association of America -- had finally relented, and given it a PG-13, thus enabling its intended audience -- people not old enough for R-rated movies -- to see it.

The film speaks for itself, so I won't waste your time summarizing it. (A.O. Scott touches on all of the key points in his review if you want to know more before you go.) Let me just say that watching it was an extraordinarily emotional experience -- each of the storylines is devastating in its own unique way -- so bring your crying towel. What I found most remarkable -- and horrifying -- is that that filmmaker Lee Hirsch was able to capture so much footage of not only bullies, but of teachers, administrators, parents and siblings victimizing and re-victimizing the objects of such hatred -- while cameras are rolling. This tells you just how little these people think of what they are doing to these poor children. (I hate people who are noisy during films, but I audibly gasped at various points.)

I hear that nothing had to be changed from the unrated version I saw, so I can say it is certainly one of the most powerful films I have ever seen (the "handshake scene" will rattle you to your core). I wish every school district in the United States (and beyond) would incorporate this into their curriculum, yet I know that will never happen. What a sad commentary about our country that even the abuse of children has become a partisan issue, one our so-called leaders are more concerned about scoring political points on rather than actually working together to prevent senseless trauma and death.

Would love to hear from others who have seen the film.


sowhatelse said...

Oh, didn't you see the big article in last weekend's WSJ? Bullying is only a problem for wimps and all these kids need to do is toughen up.

It was pretty horrifying, actually. You could force these people to watch "Bully" (at gunpoint, naturally) and they'd still have their minds closed to it.

dishy said...

Kenneth - that was perfectly, eloquently and succinctly written!
You cannot prepare yourself for the power of that movie. I went knowing pretty much everything about the film as well but I was shocked - SHOCKED! I totally understand your "audible gasp" - strongest movie I think I have ever seen.

Donny said...

I did not find the film particularly powerful or emotional. It profiled five bullying victims and the reactions of their parents and administrators. That was literally it.

Where was the depth of the impact of bullying on these kids? Where was the perspective from the side of the bully and the reactions their parents? Where were inferences to the causes and root of this epidemic?

I applaud (and admire) the intent of the filmmakers but it could have been so much more. It was hardly shocking and could have just as easily been a Dateline special. Sad but true.

Anonymous said...

There were actually three edits made to get the PG-13 rating.

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