Monday, April 8, 2013
DIFF review: The Dirties portrays school bullying in a hauntingly realistic light
The movie is not a documentary, although it feels like one.
DALLAS The Dirties, a film about bullying and school violence, is not an easy film to watch. It is, however, a film worth seeing. The two leads, Matt (Matthew Johnson) and Owen (Owen Williams), are film geeks and social outcasts. They have few friends and are constantly harassed both in the confines of and outside of school. A school video project assignment provides the boys with an outlet for their rage and an opportunity to transfer their anger into a Tarantino-esque film filled with violence, revenge and redemption.
Writers Johnson and Evan Morgan use the student film as an opportunity to splice in interviews the boys conducted with both students and teachers, who have very different opinions on the types of bullying that occur in school and how the students should handle and react “if” bullying occurs. The interviews enhance the feeling that the viewer is watching the film in real time.
Matt and Owen also interview school staff and they show their director’s cut to their instructor. Their teacher, who supports the boys’ attempt at cinematic glory, cannot in good conscience allow them to show their masterpiece to the class. He insists that they reduce the violence and bloodshed, resulting in a watered-down screening that ostracizes the filmmakers even more.
As Owen begins a friendship with his longtime crush Chrissy, Matt becomes more and more obsessed with creating a new film in which the boys who torture him are specifically targeted for a school shooting. Matt becomes so engrossed in the project that both Owen and the audience find it difficult to distinguish whether Matt’s plan for vengeance is fact or movie fiction. The film is not a documentary, but it feels like one.
It is a haunting and realistic exploration of bullying that will not leave the viewer unscathed.
The Dirties is one of the narrative films featured at the Dallas International Film Festival and will be showing at the Magnolia on Tuesday, April 9, at 7:30 p.m. and on Wednesday, April 10, at 10:15 p.m.
The Dallas International Film Festival often offers viewers the chance to hear firsthand stories from a variety of people involved in the films they are watching. It is a unique and exciting opportunity. DIFF has more than 175 films showing from April 4 through April 14. For a full schedule, visit http://diff2013.dallasfilm.org/.
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