Tuesday, August 21, 2007

"a disarming, truthful coming-of-age tale"

We're having an amazing time in Scotland at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. We just had our last screening on Saturday, but in case you missed it, check out the four-star review in the Scotsman:

Billy the Kid


THE documentary Billy the Kid could have been a very sad story indeed were it not for the fact that its subject, a twitchy, nervous hyper-intelligent American high-school student with severe behavioural problems, is clearly determined to savour every second of his life. Jennifer Venditti's film will make your heart break harder and faster than you are probably accustomed to. It outlines some of the difficulties 15-year-old Billy Preston and his mother negotiate on account of Billy's alternative wiring (he cheerfully attributes his condition - the medical diagnosis of which is only revealed in the final frame - to having "different brains").

But watching Billy as he goes about the business of being a normal teenager, he's so attuned to what's going on around him that you can't help but feel positive that things are going to work out for him. The bulk of the film is focussed on his attempts to woo Heather, a fellow outcast on whom he has an enormous crush. This could easily have been a recipe for the kind of mock-the-afflicted documentaries that intentionally or unintentionally exploit their subjects for laughs, but Venditti's sensitive style avoids this completely, offering up a disarming, truthful coming-of-age tale.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As a mental health provider who spends many hours with problem kids, I thought "this is EVERY kid's struggle". Though I'm very familiar with autism, I don't think Billy's struggle is that different. This is like "James at 15" but with a more poignant reality: it IS reality.

Jeff - Clinical Social Worker from Maine