Monday, March 19, 2018

The Smell of Us (2014)

Larry Clark's controversial lexicon of sexually-charged and intrinsically 'raw' films of teenage debauchery and callowness have typically been held in high regard by yours truly. His films "Kids", "Bully" and "Ken Park", in particular, cast such a brutally blunt and genuinely dismal light on troubled adolescence that has, in turn, garnered Clark his share of haters who see him as a kiddie porn peddler who is only out to shock audiences with vulgar, graphic depictions of 'barely legal' sex acts. While I can understand the thin-skinned types of viewers seeing it this way, I have always seen his films as starkly in-your-face, unyielding looks at dysfunctional youth - regardless of Clark's potential physical hang-ups on his young subjects of which... who knows? Ironically enough, however, after seeing his newest film, "The Smell of Us", I'm beginning to wonder if the aforementioned harsh critics of Clark are onto something because this movie pretty much IS - for all intents and purposes - the filmmaker getting his rocks off on gratuitous 'shock value' sex scenes with no real substance to back it up.

Set among the French skater-kid scene - the film primarily follows a kid who whores himself out to old men on, what he states is, a strictly gay-for-pay basis. His friend - who IS a homo and has an open crush on his pal - also prostitutes himself, as do several of their other fellow skateboarders (one of who's clientele is old ladies) the film occasionally drops in on.

Aside from the unnecessary reveal that the main kid has a weird, incestuous relationship with his mother, nothing much really happens in "The Smell of Us" as far as fleshing out any of the characters or showing us anything of any kind of merit. It really WAS as though Clark was just trying to heap in as many prolonged scenes of an emotionally vacant kids getting butt-fucked by old pervs in hopes of just simply making audiences uncomfortable. It fails in offering any kind of depth or involvement in the characters and the narrative is virtually non-existent. Instead, we're treated to a seemingly endless scene of a kid getting his toes sucked by a rabidly horned up fag or some bearded creep going around a dance club and smelling the bony, sweaty chests of drugged up pubescents. I came away from this movie blank, which disappointed me greatly considering my overall appreciation for Clark's films and his "eye" for making compelling characters out of what are typically unlikable, obnoxious, illiterate shitheads. There's nothing memorable or interesting with this one. I was a bit harsh on his previous flick, "Marfa Girl" but, compared to "The Smell of Us", it's a true gem. Hopefully Larry Clark has another decent film or two left in him before he inevitably trips over an actors' skateboard, breaks his elderly hip and is forced into retirement.

No comments:

Post a Comment