Billy the Kid (2007)
Critic Consensus: Jennifer Venditti's doc Billy the Kid turns "special" into a double edged sword, forging a sharply honest film around a strangely enigmatic -- if awkward -- kid named Billy.
Filmmaker Jennifer Venditti crafts a cinéma vérité -style coming-of-age story with this portrait of a small-town teen from Maine who struggles to embrace his outsider status while still being shaped by the tragic events of his childhood. It was while casting the Carter Smith film Bugcrush that Venditti first encountered the boy named Billy -- his eccentric wisdom leaving an immediate and lasting impression on the filmmaker. Later, after casting Billy in the film and preparing to craft a documentary about everyday heroes, Venditti and her crew returned to Maine to spend five days with the troubled young boy who had commanded her attention. Shunned by his classmates and categorized as a "special needs" student by his teachers, Billy boldly refuses to be victimized by his individuality in an environment obsessed with labels and conformity. … More
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Critic Reviews for Billy the Kid
The best documentaries take you places you don't normally have access to.
A raw, touching, unfiltered look at the teenage angst that Hollywood usually turns into brain-dead comedy.
Billy's resilience, though, is nothing short of amazing. Not to mention part of growing up.
What you ultimately take from the film is the awareness that this smart, self-aware, uncensored kid has been playing to a camera in his own head since well before Venditti came along.
Billy the Kid, a movie that's as interesting as it is dewy-eyed, may be the rare snapshot of an adolescent 'outcast' who is really the guy made for fame, with a built-in radar for how to present himself in front of the camera.
Audience Reviews for Billy the Kid
Very sweet and endearing documentary with a great subject. I think anyone can relate with the awkwardness. My problem comes with how they dealt with one aspect of his life (his love for a girl) and we only gets bits and pieces of some really nice scenes. I think that to say this kid is "normal" is kind of a stretch, but that's not a bad thing and only adds to a feeling of being voyeuristic instead of just connecting with the subject. There are some priceless, very funny moments that carry you through the rough spots.
Get ready to cringe uncomfortably as you get to experience those awful, awkward teen years all over again. God, 15 was a tough age.
Billy, the subject of this fantastic documentary, may be a tad strange and angst ridden (what teen isn't?) but all in all he's a sweet kid with a weird way of expressing himself. The moments when he's trying to strike up conversation with Heather, the girl he has a crush on, should have folks running out of the theater screaming. This is uncomfortable viewing.
But in the end, the audience is right there with him, suffering his failures and feeling his sadness. A great documentary, and make sure to watch the short follow up doc included on the DVD.
An entirely compelling documentary of adolescence, with a perfectly honest main character. The film's best trait is that it captures authentic personal moments, both triumphant and depressing, without trying to explain them. The diner sequence in which Billy meets Heather's step-dad is potentially the greatest, most shattering scene ever committed to video. Get the DVD to watch the follow-up. Loses a few points for at times coming off as condescending to Billy.
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