Larry Clark Reaches for Bigger Themes Than Teen Sex in Marfa Girl


Made just on the cusp of his turning 70, photographer-filmmaker Larry Clark’s latest reckless-youth provocation (see also: Kids, Bully, Ken Park) proves Matthew McConaughey’s immortal Dazed and Confused adage: He gets older, but those skinny, objectified adolescents stay the same age.

Within this loosely paced West Texas portrait of lyrical desolation (its grungy panoramas quite beautiful when not looking like advertising gloss), smoking pot, fucking, and spanking the boredom away is still the modus operandi for Clark’s largely nonprofessional ensemble.

Half-Hispanic teen Adam (Adam Mediano) skateboards from one hedonistic distraction to the next and is occasionally bullied by sadistic, racist Border Patrolman Tom (Jeremy St. James). Everyone wants a piece of Adam, from his age-appropriate girlfriend, Inez, to his pregnant high school teacher, an older neighbor whose baby-daddy is in jail, and especially the eponymous, libertarian artist who’s just arrived in town (Drake Burnette).

Atypical of Clark’s minimalist, documentary-like fixation on explicit, chatty young bodies in motion is a striving grasp for bigger themes like race relations and spiritual enlightenment. However, even at its most compulsively watchable — such as a violent third-act sucker punch that won’t let you forget the term “hate paste” — the film is as shallow as its characters’ oversexed conversations.

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