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Billy Was a Deaf Kid

February 16, 2013

Cinequest 2009


Billy Was a Deaf Kid was a very trying movie for me to get through. The two speaking characters, Sophie and her boyfriend Archie, were the most annoying couple I’ve ever seen on screen or in person. They never STOP TALKING. But they don’t talk about anything, it was just “Why did you do that?” “Why did you do that?” “Why are you doing that?” “But why did you do that?” Ten bajillion times over. There are also a couple of shocking moments, starting with the opening scene of Archie spitting into Sophie’s face about a hundred times. Now, this was part of an agreement, so you know, whatever. But there was a point where she told him to stop and he kept going. The spitting continues through the movie with Sophie several times asking him to stop. There is also some arm grabbing and refusals to let Sophie leave the room. Despite this, and in spite of me mentally yelling, “RUN, Sophie, RUN!!” Sophie sticks with him to the end of the movie (even after he also violently pushes his own adult sister into the concrete).

The Q&A after was interesting. One woman and one man both raised their hands and said they had never laughed so hard at a movie. I laughed a couple times, but never very hard. But you know who really never laughed? The 28 people who walked out of the theater. Ten of them during the first spitting scene. I hadn’t meant to keep count but I was sitting near the exit, and when a parade went past I couldn’t help but count them, and then kept a tally through the movie. 28 people, gone.

There was a discussion of whether what Archie did could be considered domestic abuse, and the woman who played Sophie defended the actions saying that when Archie poured soda in her face and mouth and nose while holding her down on the floor, it was only after Sophie had spit soda in his face. And in the first scene, she was slapping him while he was spitting on her. Well. That’s not exactly how I would describe what happened. I would say that it starts crossing the line into abuse when Sophie tells Archie to stop and he refuses, and ANY time that he won’t let her go. Yes, she started some of the fights. But at no time did she hold Archie against his will (nor could she have) and never did he tell her to stop doing something except during the first scene. Granted, she did start slapping him again after he told her to stop, but it was because he would not stop spitting in her face. I would have done more than slap Archie at that point, I would have kicked his fucking ass instead.

I loved the parts with them riding on the couch, and I quickly realized this was because it was set to music and Sophie and Archie could SHUT the hell UP. If all the dialogue could be taken out of this movie, I would love it – possibly including the spitting and slapping. So, special supporting role of the Couch gets an A+ from me.

I felt through most of the movie that either the writing was just really, really, REALLY amateurish, or the actors were improvising as they went along. Apparently there was a little of both. But it wasn’t until the scene with Billy’s doctor that I understood the reason for the inane dialogue. The thesis statement comes right out of the doctor’s mouth: “Communication means you talk and then someone understands.” The doctor was trying to describe Billy, but at that point you realize there is no communication in the film between anyone, no matter how much talking they do. Even Archie’s sister has her iPod on and does not notice them stealing Billy from her house.

I know Cinequesting liked it, but I cannot recommend it. At least 28 others in the theater also don’t recommend it. I think the filmmakers hold promise, I understand the meaning of the movie, I just don’t ever want to sit through 90 minutes of Sophie and Archie yappering to each other ever again.

[Edited: The filmmakers and I have become fast friends and they are LOVELY people; their sense of humor is so great they even quoted this review in their official trailer. I have a total soft spot for them.]

Now available on Instant Video.

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