Bully – Quickie Review

Sticks and Stones

By Adam Sturrock

Bully (2011)

Director: Lee Hirsch

Writer: Lee Hirsch, Cynthia Lowen

Length: 98mins

We have always found it easy to identify problems, but never the solutions. Bullying is a universal problem; we find perceived flaws in people, be it in the way they dress, talk, walk and we make them feel horrible for it.

In this documentary directed by Lee Hirsch, we don’t really see anything different to what we already know. Rather than see the oppressing child being the antagonist in the film as the title suggests, we see the teachers take the hit. Ironically, we only see a bully in the film once during the hour and half or so watching it. We witness a teacher tell two kids to shake hands, the one refusing to is the victim and the smirking child; the bully – of course he is.

Parents are seen as helpless and teachers, ignorant as is always the case but we only see the story from one side of the fence. The victims. More interesting questions could have been made of the motives of bullying and how that can be stopped. A blanket is thrown over our victims to comfort them, knowing that  we are on their side but a solution to deal with the bullying isn’t really suggested. Attempts to highlight one of the child’s treatment on the bus to his parents leads to another hapless meeting with  a headmaster, exclaiming that the kids are as “good as gold”. While ultimately the story telling of the numerous victims’ problems are touching, with an emotional start to the film being a particular mention, the film seems too scared to shame the bully for the cruel injustices that they have done.

Bullying has always and probably  will continue to be the elephant in the room. But rather than bring about suggestions on how to deal with kicking the animal out, we only use a bigger magnifying glass to show where it is.


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