In Larry Clark’s first film, Kids, we see a side of life we know is out there but would like to imagine it is not.

Every so often a person can find themselves draw to a film even though, or perhaps because, the subject is repelling. This phenomenon is what makes so many stare at a car crash. In Larry Clark’s first film, Kids, we see a side of life we know is out there but would like to imagine it is not. The cast of Kids was entirely composed of a group of unknowns. They had the genuine look and feel of the Skateboard kids of midtown. The main character Telly is a mid-teen punk that enjoys nothing more than talking a young girl out of her virginity. Telly and his friends live for sex, drug, alcohol and skateboarding. They are also very prone to extreme violence when they feel they have been insulted. They steal, lie and pretty much do what they want. A parent’s must horrifying nightmare. Among these low lives is a ray of beauty, Jennie. She finds out that after Telly took her virginity she now tests positive for HIV/AIDS. She spends much of the film looking for him to confront him. A lot of the film has to do with the complete lack of adult supervision these kids have. It also provides a gritty look at the way the boys think about the girls and vice versa. While gritty and well deserving of the NC-17 it received, it is a frank and honest look at a serious problem in today’s culture.

The acting in this film drives it to heights you cannot imagine from just reading about it. Leo Fitzpatrick is excellent as the amoral Telly. His casual flair around the girls plays counterpoint to the crude true self his male friends know. The breakout actor of this film is without a doubt, Chloe Sevigny. Now famous for her Ocsar nominated role in Boys Don’t Cry, this youthful actress has a short life but an impressive list of films. To date they include Last Days of Disco, Palmetto and my personal favorite, Trees Lounge. In Kids Ms Sevigny brings a tenderness that is much needed after all the scenes of senseless brutality these children have as a daily part of their lives. The ending is not a typical Hollywood. It is stark, it truly reflects the harsh reality of kids today. The ancillary cast populates this world in a street-smart manner that will keep you glued to your screen.

The director, Larry Clark could have gone two ways with this film. He could have toned it down for the MPAA approval. As it stands he knew it would be bared from those under 17 which is the precise group that could benefit most from seeing cautionary story. Clark could have made this into yet another teen sex film with and R rating that would draw kids into the theaters without revealing anything true about the topic. Instead Larry Clark set out to make a movie that reflected the gritty side of life and he stuck to it and did it. He went on to direct Another Day in Paradise with a much better know cast but this is the gem in his resume.

The disc is not feature filled as many DVD owners have come to expect. Like the movie it is streetwise, Dolby 2.0 sound with a 1:1.85 aspect ration this disc depends on talent and not extras to give the viewers their money’s worth. The production may seem amateurish at times but for me this only added to the film. Parents, get this film and force your teenagers to view it. May be they will learn something.

Review by Doug MacLean of

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