Thursday, August 6, 2009

DJG / Billy the Kid

Billy the Kid * * * * ½
Directed by: Jennifer Venditti / 2007

Billy is like a lot of small town fifteen-year-olds. Billy likes to listen to KISS and AC/DC. Billy likes to imagine himself in a Harry Potter potion class as opposed to hum-drum high school chemistry. Billy loves girls but respects them. Billy loves horror movies and talks about them a lot. Billy jumps subject ship so fast and onto the next and sometimes with unease and twitchy intervals. We all had Billy, or a handful, in our schools and hometowns growing up, especially in rural America. Billy lives in small town Maine where the winters are harsh and the high school kids are just as harsh to the weird and eccentric kids as they are anywhere else. Billy may be different to most standards, but Billy is the best.

Apparently, director Jennifer Venditti was working as a fashion modeling scout when she stumbled upon Billy and decided right then the subject of her first film. If I’d met Billy before watching his shining star in “Billy the Kid”, I’d have wanted to make a film on him too. Billy is the type of friend that you’d want to have, even if he would kill you with kindness (and too much talk) on a daily basis. But, you’d never have a boring moment or run out of things to talk about with a friend like Billy. Billy is a wonderful person who may not understand social situations, but he can see what your soul is like by sharing with you so much of his own, and the first time you meet him. Billy isn’t a Barnum & Bailey sideshow, tabloid fodder or a movie of the week. Why a movie on Billy? Billy is original, complex, unique, inspiring, inquisitive and reflective. And there is a lot more than that going on inside and radiating from Billy. Billy is more alive than everyone else in his town put together, especially his peers. Billy articulates himself like a long, lost philosopher like, “Sometimes life’s a pain in the butt. But, sometimes it’s worth it because you’ll find great things in the life that’s a pain.”

Billy’s father left the family years ago after a run with the law, spousal abuse and alcoholism. Billy has a lot of pain, rage and inner demons due to his biological father. Billy’s mother is one of the strongest, nicest, supporting, connecting and most loving mother’s I’ve seen depicted in any form of movies or real life. Billy has a step-father he likes at home, but I didn’t get to meet him. I did meet Billy’s first love, Heather. Billy poured his love out for Heather in two days, like all boys tend to do but with triple the amount with Billy. He had his heart broken in return. Billy can be too much at times, but I like that about Billy. Billy is very becoming, bold, brave and not bashful. One can learn a lot from a boy like Billy.

Fifteen-year-old Billy will forever be on display in movie form and I wonder about his future. Venditti captured Billy very simply, purely and sometimes awkwardly, yet never in a way to exploit Billy, rather just to share with the world his charm and unique way of handling himself. Though, what will become of Billy after high school? Will Billy go on to do great things? Billy says he doesn’t want to be a free-loader all his life. Billy mentioned something about either dying a young death or lead his people in a revolution. No matter what, I think Billy will always make an impact on those around him, in some form or another. I’m thankful I got to meet Billy. I can relate to Billy. At times, I even am Billy. We all have a little bit of Billy in us, we just need somebody like Billy to remind us that it’s OK to be who you are. I like the way Billy is and I hope others do too. -djg

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