O - Bully - Larry Clark - Josh Hartnett
Credit: Lionsgate
by Mike Thorn Feature Articles Featured Film

Morality, Murder, and Misanthropic Milieus in Bully and O

February 17, 2023

In the summer of 2001, Lionsgate distributed two brutal films about young adults carrying out murderous conspiracy plots against their friends. The first, Larry Clark’s Bully, premiered at the performance-focused Method Fest in mid-June, and was distributed in the U.S. theatrically the following month. In late-August, Tim Blake Nelson’s O (Othello) saw release, following a recent cycle of Shakespeare adaptations reimagined for contemporary young adult milieus (Romeo + Juliet [1996], 10 Things I Hate About You [1999], Get Over It! [2001], etc.). Although Clark’s singularly vicious vision differs significantly from Nelson’s more conventional one, these back-to-back releases exhibit fascinating thematic and tonal convergences, most specifically in terms of their shared moral complexity.

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Published as part of InRO Weekly — Volume 1, Issue 7.