Everybody remembers where they were and who they were with when they first saw the film “Kids”, especially if they were at home as teenagers and watched it with their parents.
Kids was written by a 19 year-old Harmony Korine and directed by Larry Clark, both of whom’s fame and notoriety were largely products of the sensationalized response to the film.
The film shows adolescent / teenage sexuality in a manner that still many years later feels shocking and raw. In the first scene, we see the protagonist Telly talking an almost pre-pubescent (?) looking girl into “giving up” her virginity.
What he doesn’t know is that he is HIV positive.
Jennie, played by a young Chloe Sevigny, is perhaps the least “bad” of all the characters. She has slept with only one person, Telly, whereas her friend Ruby (Rosario Dawson) admits having sex with 8 people, and even having anal sex.
She’s blown away to discover she’s HIV positive and goes out in search of Telly to break the news.
As she’s looking for him, we see Telly slowly seducing his friend’s 13 year old sister, Darcy, at a pool and then a house party.
By the time Jennie reaches Telly (stoned on Ketamine and having witnessed an orgy in a night club) it’s too late.
She passes out on a couch and is then raped by Telly’s best friend Kasper, a degenerate of the first order.
Everybody gets Aids.
It was a really big deal. Was this how we were, then, as kids at that time? No, not me, at least. Maybe because I grew up in a different kind of neighborhood.
Many of the film’s stars went from being so called “non actors” to professional, famous actors. Harmony Korine was able to carve out an interesting and caustic body of work. Chloe Sevigny is very famous, Leo Fitzpatrick less so. Harold Hunter (seen below in a Supreme shirt gang beating another guy) died of a drug overdose not long after I moved to New York City.
Just Kids is a recut of the film Kids. I have taken away Jennie’s visit to the doctor, and also worked, on a scene by scene basis, to tone down Telly’s more sinister seduction attempts. The gang beating scene is out, the orgy scene is out.
What results is an hour long movie where the Kids can be “just kids” and not have to face the narrative consequences pinned on them (ingeniously) by the young scriptwriter. Jennie’s just a little hung up on Telly, and Telly doesn’t like her like that. Him and Casper are just two young kids in the big city looking for a good time.
It’s an act of mercy towards the characters, and the audience. Something like the credit scenes in skate videos where the team parties together, with way better dialogue and a melancholic sense of a time, place… a different way of “hanging out”.