14 February 2009

Billy the Kid

The day after a friend of mine recommended this movie to me, I came across it again in this piece in the Onion on quality movies about love. The Onion list, incidentally, intrigued me - I've decided to make it a project. I've seen 14 of the 29 movies already, and aside from Once and Sideways, neither of which I particularly liked (mostly, I suppose, because the male lead in both sort of irritated me), I am inclined to agree that they're all very nice movies about love. So I'm looking forward to the rest.

Anyhow. Billy the Kid is actually not really that much about love. I mean, there is a romance involved, and in some ways it seems to be the focus of the film, but really the movie is about Billy himself. Billy is a fascinating guy, totally worthy of his own film. In some ways, he and the people in his life remind one of Napoleon Dynamite - they're awkward and strange but also largely very sweet and sincere. One is kind of surprised and relieved to realize that Billy can actually make it in the real world - or rather, the world of American adolescence, which is really far worse than the real world. Thus, the movie makes one think about societal norms and how they get reenforced - or how sometimes, they allow for exceptions that one wouldn't expect (Lars and the Real Girl also comes to mind in this regard).

I think what's lovely about Billy is the way he gravely discusses anything and everything and has very fixed, clear opinions about pretty much anything he encounters. There's no ambiguity in Billy's vision of the world. There's something kind of precious and perhaps even appealing about that. Though I bet it's annoying as hell in person.

Anyhow, all in all, a very pleasant movie. Strangely enough, it doesn't feel exploitative at all, despite the camera being up close and personal for all kinds of private moments. Though I did appreciate that Billy gets to have a romantic moment with his lady friend off-camera. I assume he must have been wearing a mic or something? Because you get the sound, but the camera is trained on the side of a building they've just ducked behind. It's a nice touch.

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