Billy The Kid

Billy The Kid


Reviewed by: Susanna Krawczyk

Billy is an ordinary boy in many ways. He likes rock and roll, horror movies and riding his bike. He’s awkward and shy with girls he likes and he doesn’t always know the best way to channel his emotions. As I said: ordinary teenage boy. But Billy also has what his mother calls “Issues”. These Issues seem to be some form of autism or perhaps something along the lines of ADD, but we are never given a medical diagnosis. It’s more or less irrelevant anyway. What matters is that his way of seeing the world – while different from the view of most people – is still heartbreakingly easy to identify with. In following fifteen-year-old Billy around his day-to-day life in small-town Maine I found it hard not to wince occasionally at the embarrassing teenage moments captured on camera.

Billy’s awkward moments are moments that anyone who’s been a teenager can relate to – from coming on too strong to your first Significant Other to accidentally blurting out that your favourite movie genre is slasher flicks (due to your interest in “murderers”) to said Other’s parents upon first meeting them – and so while it brings a pained smile of recognition and relief that those days are over, it can also be mildly excruciating. Billy is learning about the idiosyncrasies of human behaviour and trying to work out how best to fit himself into them, while at the same time battling his Issues, and it’s fascinating to watch. For someone who is shunned and bullied at school and who struggles with anger and resentment towards his violent father, Billy is incredibly upbeat. His view of life is that: “sometimes it can be a pain in the butt. But it’s worth it!”

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The heart of the film is Billy’s attempts to romance a girl his age who works at the local diner. He learns that she suffers from an eye disorder and has been bullied at school, and the hope in his eyes is touching. Perhaps he’ll connect better to someone who has experienced some of the difficulties he has been through than to the cheerleader he professed his undying love to in a crowded study hall. Billy’s patter may not be great, but in places he’s genuinely eloquent – certainly more so than a large proportion of his peers, anyway. You’ll be rooting for him all the way through his wooing of Heather, while most likely wanting to echo his mother’s advice to slow down, not come on too strong, and just be himself.

This is a heartwarming film in the truest sense of the word. Billy is an endearing character and witnessing his mother’s care for him and his unceasing ability to bounce back is a joy. Jennifer Venditti built up a strong relationship with Billy and his family during the making of the film and it shows. Billy trusts the camera, and so we as viewers feel he trusts us as he navigates his way through a time in his life that, perhaps uniquely, is a time when his condition does not make him all that much more awkward and dysfunctional than others of his age group.

Reviewed on: 16 Aug 2007
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Documentary following a boy with learning difficulties looking for romance.

Director: Jennifer Venditti

Starring: Billy P., Penny Baker, Heather Pelletier

Year: 2007

Runtime: 84 minutes

Country: US


EIFF 2007
Birds 2008

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