Review: Blake Jenner and gritty ‘Billy Boy’ aim high with messy results
The grimy crime thriller “Billy Boy’s” original title — ”Juvenile” — better points to its energy, fueled by adolescent angst and fury, even if, in real life, its stars left behind underage status almost a decade ago. Written by and starring a bleached-blond Blake Jenner, “Billy Boy” is ambitious in its structure, style and editing, but the final product is disjointed and irritating.
Teenage Billy (Jenner) lives a life straight out of local news’ worst nightmare, punching his teachers and screaming at his mother by day, then stealing cars and partying by night. Unmoored by the death of his friend Josh (Nathaniel Stroud) and persuaded by the affection of his new girlfriend Jennifer (Melissa Benoist), Billy finally begins to realize that his pursuits of fighting and carjacking aren’t of value. He tries to extricate himself from his friendship with obnoxious fellow carjacker Mikey (Grant Harvey) and come clean, but Mikey is unwilling to let him out of the life of violence so easily.
Jenner’s script is nonlinear, jostling the audience back and forth between pivotal moments in Billy’s life. Directed by Ryan Murphy stalwart Bradley Buecker (“Glee,” “American Horror Story: Cult”), “Billy Boy” features some nice cinematography, but it doesn’t know when enough is enough. The result is a hyper-stylized mess that throws everything at the wall, employing the “rewind” button and creative shots too liberally on top of its narrative tricks.
Running time: 1 hour, 27 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Music Hall 3, Beverly Hills
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