Last week I watched Billy the Kid, a documentary -- out on DVD tomorrow – that provides a glimpse into the life of, umm… a kid named Billy.
I didn’t know anything about this movie before watching it, and after popping it in my DVD player, not too much time had passed before I started wondering what exactly the film was trying to achieve. My husband didn’t just wonder, he asked out loud about twenty minutes in, “What’s the point of this?”
But, unlike how we handled Be Kind, Rewind, we stuck with Billy the Kid to see what was going to happen over the course of 85 minutes or so. During that time, what I realized was that I had become so accustomed to “reality TV” -- which, as you probably know by now, isn’t all that real – that I almost didn’t know how to process something that was completely unscripted and lacked a forced plot. As soon as I stopped fretting about whether or not the movie was going to end up having a “story line,” I actually felt myself physically relax and started to appreciate getting a look into a life that was very different from my own.
Billy is a fifteen-year-old living in a small town in Maine and going through all of the typical teenage drama that everyone experiences during those hormone-fueled years. He has dreams of becoming a radio personality (like his stepfather), an actor or a rock star, yearns for a girlfriend, works on his guitar skills by playing along with music videos, and loves (and often quotes) movies. He unknowingly drops hilarious one-liners, like when he promises to stay away from trouble by following the advice given in his martial arts class: “Run away… and live to fight another day!”
What’s different about Billy is that he has a behavioral disorder that makes him prone to angry outbursts and obsessive thoughts, and requires him to be part of a special class in school. (Interviews with Billy’s mother are interspersed throughout the film and allude to his issues, but the specific name of his condition is never mentioned. Filmmaker Jennifer Venditti explains her reasoning for this decision in one of the bonus features).
Billy the Kid’s “point” was simply to explore a brief period of time in its subject’s life… but I think anyone who watches it will not only be reminded of how thankful they are that they’re out of high school, but will also have an appreciation for people who, are Billy put it, are “not black, not white, not foreign – just different in the mind.”
If you have a thing for documentaries and are intrigued by what you've read so far, check out the trailer below:
Did you get the sense that Billy the Kid has a rockin’ soundtrack? It does… well, if you’re like my husband and enjoy KISS, that is.
While Billy the Kid might not be everyone’s cup of tea, I did find it intriguing and hope that at some point down the road, Venditti checks in again with Billy and his mom so that we can find out where the next chapter in their lives took them.