When you’re talking about cult movies, Larry Clark’s Kids is one of the most notable examples. Shot in 1995, it’s an uncensored story about a group of teenagers and their daily activities. Those activities include sex, doing drugs, stealing, and much more controversial stuff. Harmony Korine wrote the movie in 1993 at the age of 18. The reason why this was so sensational at the time was the fact that the puritan cinemagoers considered movies as part of the official system of values, basically something that could be used for education. This required that the movie does not talk about taboo issues like teenage sex or teenage drug use, although those things were happening. They thought if they close their eyes, everything will be fine.
Kids shows us the secret world that these kids are living in. If you remember your childhood, you will notice similarities. You don’t consider grown-ups as persons but as robots, programmed to act and talk a certain way. More importantly, they are not driven by urges and these kids are all about urges. Competently shot and edited, Kids also feels like an improvisation but it actually follows Korine’s script to the letter. It’s a bit unnerving watching these kids spiral out and do all kinds of things they shouldn’t. And since you can’t stop them, you can only watch study why are doing what they are doing. Why they are trying to prove themselves or get fucked up? There are so many questions and so few answers.
Meet Telly, a young teenager living in New York with only one goal on his mind: to have sex with virgins. After he just had sex with a twelve-year-old girl, he walks away with his best friend Casper looking for alcohol. Soon, many other kids join the gang, all looking for a good time.
Same as in Ken Park, the public is saying the following: if you’re going to talk about teen sex or teen drug use, you must provide us with a way to solve that problem. This movie just displays the problem and leaves the viewer to determine what’s his attitude towards this is. And since most people don’t want to think about these things, they immediately hate the movie and never want to talk about it.
Disregarding the fact that everything you have seen and sometimes much, much worse stuff is happening right now. Just to illustrate how much of a problem we’re in, you should know that Justin Pierce who played Casper here, committed suicide just five years after the release of the movie. We need to talk about these things, understand them and find a way to help these young men and women get through them.
Just imagine if there ever was a movie like this made in the twenties or thirties. Or any other period of human history, what kind of fucked up things would surface then. Kids is a chronicle of our time and it’s false to point at it and say kids are more fucked up now than they were before. Same shit, different motherfucking day. It also speaks about artistic freedom and the ability to have a conversation about these things. Again, we are talking more about the impact of the movie than the movie itself. It’s got this thick atmosphere like you’re watching this car crash in real-time, but you’re able to zoom and focus certain parts of the accident.
Because of the relaxed style of shooting, many of the shots feel so realistic that they immediately pull you into this young, hedonistic vibe. The camera is floating in the air filled with marijuana smoke and hormones, basically hidden in plain sight. This enables us, the viewers to get a good look at our youth. Finally, apart from Leo Fitzpatrick who was phenomenal as Telly, Kids introduces us to both Rosario Dawson and Chloë Sevigny. The rest of the cast is mostly unknown, consisting of writers’ real friends who were basically playing themselves. Considering all this, they did an amazing job.
Director: Larry Clark
Writers: Harmony Korine, Larry Clark
Cast: Leo Fitzpatrick, Justin Pierce, Billy Waldeman, Chloë Sevigny, Rosario Dawson
Fun Facts: Oliver Stone, after reading the script for Kids, actually tried to court Harmony Korine into writing him a similar screenplay.