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Billy The Kid Movie Review - 2007

Coming of Age in Rural Maine

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating

By

In Billy the Kid, filmmaker Jennifer Venditti follows 15-year old Billy Price around his home town of Lisbon Falls, Maine.

Pure Cinema Verite Style

The film, shot in eight days during the summer and winter of 2005, is pure cinema verite-style, delivered without voice over narration or expert witnesses to tell you what’s going on. You see raw-looking footage shot with a hand held camera of Billy, his class mates, his mother and Heather Pelletier, his first girlfriend.

From the outset, there’s something disturbing about Billy’s behavior. He’s smart, extremely articulate, intellectually engaged and, like many teenagers, plays video games and heavy metal music. But he’s an oddball, an outsider in school who blurts out whatever is on his mind without censorship and has a volatile temper. His performance on camera-- an ongoing and highly opinionated and often surprisingly insightful monologue that’s most often delivered directly to the camera, regarding coming of age subjects ranging from girls to horror movies--seems somewhat exhibitionistic. His relationships with his understanding and supportive mother and with Heather, a shy waitress who is partially blind, indicate his pressing need to be chivalrous towards women--a character trait, we learn, that stems from unspecified traumas during his early childhood. Billy is sympathetic, but you can easily understand why he‘s a social outcast

Billy As The Central Character

In interviews, Venditti says she met and became fascinated by Billy while she was in his rural hometown working as a casting director on Bugcrush, a narrative feature by Carter Smith. This is her directorial debut, and it's clear that she sees her role as that of a witness with a camera. She makes neither editorial comment nor judgment. She doesn't explain nor does she advocate. Although she has commented about it elsewhere, nowhere in the film does she indicate that Billy suffers from Aspergers Syndrome, a form of Autism. This is a film about Billy, not about his condition.

Film Details

  • Release dates: Theatrical December, 2007; DVD September 2008
  • Run time: 84 mins.
  • Parental Guidance: Content advisory for parents
  • Country: USA
  • Language: English
  • Lisbon Falls, Maine
  • Distribution: Elephant Eye Films, USA theatrical, Zeitgeist USA DVD
  • Awards:
    • Cinema Eye Awards, 2007, Best Documentary Feature Debut[/li
    • Edinburgh International Film Festival, 2007, Best Feature Documentary
    • Los Angeles Film Festival, 2007, Best Documentary
    • Melbourne International Film Festival, 2008, Most Popular Documentary
    • SXSW Film Festival, 2007, SXSW Jury Award

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