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Billy the Kid (2007)

November 14, 2009

7/10 Wallflowers

A fascinating and often uncomfortable look into one very unique kid’s life and the condition he struggles with.

Billy the Kid is surprisingly enough not about cowboys. It’s in fact a documentary that follows 15-year-old Billy P., a bright, yet socially awkward teen living with Asperger’s syndrome as he tries to fit in with his peers, find himself a girlfriend, and tell the world his story by way of a seemingly endless wealth of obscure movie quotes.

I like this kid.

Sought this movie out after seeing posters for it all over the place in NYC two years ago on those POST NO BILLS walls. Normally this kind of marketing doesn’t do jack crap for me, but there’s just something about that poster and that great title plastered over it. You know what, it’s probably just the bow tie and Billy’s numbing gaze. Kid is hot shit.

Anyway, it’s a pretty interesting movie on a couple levels.

I dig documentaries like this that focus on everyday people going through their everyday lives, kinda like Anvil! The Story of Anvil. No frills, nothing fancy, just Billy and a camera for the most part, and that was more than enough to keep me interested. This is the only directing credit of Jennifer Venditti’s and she does a good job of keeping it simple and letting her subjects do the work for her. 

It also helps that Billy eats up the attention from start to finish. He’s a very entertaining kid to watch and listen to for the most part, but at other times the opposite kicks into effect and your heart sinks for the guy. From the moment you see his rat tail and his Three Wolf Moon T-shirt, you can tell that Billy probably doesn’t fit in with The Plastics at his school. But the thing is that Billy is proud of who he is, rat tail and all, and you can’t help but admire that. The kid’s got spunk, dammit.

But the main selling point to Billy the Kid is the inside look it gives to Asperger’s in terms of how it effects the people who have it and how others react to it in turn. The main way this effects Billy is that it practically gives him split personalities. In the privacy of his own home, Billy is incredibly well-spoken and has a lot of insightful things to say about his outlook on life. But then when he’s in public spaces trying to make friends or ask a girl out on a date, everything just seems to fall apart for Billy.

I don’t have a whole lot of experience being around people with Asperger’s, and I’m no doctor, but from the little time I have spent, this last part about Billy’s difficulties in social settings is dead on. It’s absolutely heartbreaking when you see Billy trying to make conversation with strangers and not being able to find the words to make everything click together. Made me cringe not only because it sucks watching Billy put himself through this, but also because it seems perfectly normal to him.

Luckily, there are a number of scenes where Billy hits it out of the park in these situations, but for the most part, it’s like watching a sinking ship.

Not sure how many people out there have heard of this movie, let alone seen it, but it’s a pretty insightful watch about a pretty endearing kid. Might not be everyone’s thing, but I dug it. Come on, just look at that poster, how could you not want to find out more about Billy?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Chad permalink
    December 11, 2009 4:25 pm

    Favorite documentary of all time. Hands down.

    • December 11, 2009 5:31 pm

      Wow, right on, man. Don’t know a whole lot of people who’ve seen it, glad you dug it, too. Thanks for reading.

  2. Timothy permalink
    September 28, 2012 12:03 am

    Billy is amazing…this world needs more kids like him. This was one of the best documentaries I have ever seen.

    • October 1, 2012 11:15 am

      You’re not the first person who’s said that. Billy really is something special, and it’s one of the best films about Asperger’s that’s out there right now. Glad you liked the movie so much and thanks for stopping by!

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