Kids

on July 21, 1995 by Lael Loewenstein
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   An edgy, disturbing first film from photographer Larry Clark, "Kids" was one of the few hot tickets in Cannes, and one of the few films to generate much controversy. Set in contemporary New York, the movie depicts with brutal candor a group of hard-living teens. The story centers on Telly (Leo Fitzpatrick), a lust-filled youth whose specialty is virgins. What he doesn't know is that he's carrying the AIDS virus--which comes clear only when Jennie (Chloe Sevigny), a recent virgin conquest, has an HIV test that comes back positive. Cocky and smooth, seducing every girl he can, Telly is a walking time bomb.As a devastated Jennie sets out to inform Telly, Clark crosscuts between her desperate search for him and his current pursuit of yet another nubile. Whether Jennie will arrive in time to stop Telly from infecting someone else is the conflict driving the suspense. Meanwhile, Telly and his pals indulge in a slew of shocking acts, assaulting strangers in the park and ingesting a variety of drugs.
   "Kids" is especially chilling because it seems uncannily authentic, like an extended episode of MTV's "Real World" gone haywire. Unaffected and natural, the young actors handle the dialogue as though improvising; its genuine feel may be attributed to screenwriter Harmony Korine, who at age 19 knows his subjects. The speculation that "Kids" might earn an NC-17 rating for its graphic language and shocking premise seems ironic and unwarranted. It's difficult to imagine teens seeing anything as less inviting and more frightening than the self-destructive behavior of these kids.    Starring Leo Fitzpatrick, Justin Pierce and Chloe Sevigny. Directed by Larry Clark. Written by Harmony Korine. Produced by Cary Woods. A Miramax release. Drama. Not yet rated. Running time: 95 min.
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