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Bad Boy Bubby

Director: Rolf De Heer


This extraordinary Australian film usually comes with dire warnings about it containing something to offend everybody. Yet such scaremongering does this highly original, challenging and afecting work a grave injustice. Admittedly, the opening fifteen minutes of Bad Boy Bubby may upset some sensitive souls, But they are essential in establishing where the central character is coming from. Bubby (Nicholas Hope) is a 35-year-old man who has been confined all his life to sharing a dingy room with his casually monstrous mother (Clarie Benito). He’s been told that the air outside is poisonous and sees no wrong in having sex with his parent. A kind of Kaspar Houser figure of the modern age, Bubby is an innocent whose unformed and unprejudiced outlook lead to acts that are both terrible and funny. Checking out his mother’s contenion that cats don’t need to breathe, Bubby kills their pet by wrappin git in cling-film. He uses the same method to kill mom and pop when the latter returns to usurp Bubby’s sexual role.
So far so weird and gruesome, but the tone of the film changes once Bubby is realeased into the outside world where his child-like mimicry of bad behaviour has him perceived as a wacko outsider. Amusingly, he finds acceptance among a bunch of down-and-out rock musicians, and even manages to change the bands fortunes when young audiences take to his on-stage performance as Bubby the cling-wrap killer. But Rolf de Heer’s film is no freak show, as amply demonstrated in its very moving third act in whch Bubby meets a nurse who looks after people with disabilities and who, like Bubby, has suffered abuse from her parents. With an amazing central performance from Nicholas Hope, atmospheric wide-screen photography and an audacious use of stereo sound all complementing the director’s courageous vision, Bad Boy Bubby is a major film. See it, and stick with it.

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