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December 16, 2008

Billy the Kid

by Franz Patrick


Billy the Kid (2007)
★★★ / ★★★★

A lot of critics really liked this documentary but a lot of casual moviegoers did not. I think it’s always a challenge watching a slice-of-life picture because most people will think about the movie’s purpose (even though there might not be one) to the point where they get distracted from the film altogether. For me, when I watch slice-of-life movies, I almost always relate them to my life; I learn to accept the inconsistencies of the story, the rough edges of direction, and the all too ordinary images. In a way, I treat it less like a movie and more like a diary, per se. And like a diary, this movie made me sad, laugh-out-loud and everything inbetween. There were times when the protagonist would say really awkward things to the point where I noticed myself squirming in my seat… And then I just start laughing because I was amazed by how engaged I am into this 15-year-old’s motivations and ways of thinking. What’s even better is that he’s funny but he doesn’t know that he’s being funny. I heard from a few sources that Billy was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome after the film was shot, which made sense because he’s a very smart kid (I love his references to films), but he’s very awkward socially. In a way, Billy reminded me of Heather Kuzmich of “America’s Next Top Model” Cycle 9. As for the documentary’s deeper moments, I was interested hearing about Billy’s family, specifically how his biological father treated his family back then, how some people get alarmed when Billy would check out books about serial killers, and the work he had to go through to potentially have his first girlfriend. Billy has a defined set of principles that makes him relatable and interesting. But I have to be honest: When I was in high school, Billy was the kind of person I avoided (I feel so mean now that I look back on it!) and thus not be friends with because I felt like they don’t know when to stop talking and respect other people’s space. So, in a way, this movie got to me; maybe I should’ve been more understanding because some people are so eager to make friends to the point where they seem like they’re trying too hard or they’re being fake. I got really sad when they showed Billy’s silent moments. Even though he has a great mom who supports him 100% and some friends he can talk to, I feel like he’s still alone. I can relate with that (and I think so do most people) and that’s why I found this movie to be truly genuine.

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