Written by: Adam Vaughn | February 11th, 2021
Bullied (Thomas Keith, 2019) 3 out of 4 stars.
More and more do we as a society address the topic of bullying in our current era, taking a forceful stance on the repercussions and damages done by it. In his newest documentary, Bullied, director Thomas Keith continues the trend of dramatizing the heartfelt subject by showing some intimate, real-life examples of the tragic results of children that are pushed to the ultimate limit by harassment at school, taking multiple examples based on race, gender, and culture, and how bullying takes on various violent and scary forms. While Bullied does a tremendous job delving into the emotional state of its subject matter, and views bullying from a unique and introspective angle, it sometimes deviates from its main point to tackle topics that, quite frankly, could be told in a whole other film by themselves.
Bullied certainly has been done before, in the sense that most films that tackle bullying approach the topic from a serious perspective and wield the dramatic power of true stories of parents who have lost children to suicide caused by bullying. Such plot points will always resonate with an audience, and create an instant connection on a visceral level. The film has various well-edited sequences, with B-roll that fully reinforces the events depicted. Certainly, Keith has no issue reaching out to his target audience and establishing a deep commitment to spreading a message about the horrors of bullying.
Where Bullied starts to fall apart is when it tackles its highly political plot points, and deviates from the central theme of the movie. It may be true that the experience of the LGBQT community is incredibly pertinent, the use of social media as a form of bullying extremely timely, and Donald Trump as the modern, adult spokesperson for “bullying” very culturally sound, but at the end of the day, such topics can be used to create an entire hour-and-a-half of content, delving deep into each phenomenon. As it currently stands in the pacing of these topics, however, they feel forced on the audience for too brief a period of time to truly resonate.
Nevertheless, Bullied is a film that needs to be seen, heard and experienced. It’s a film that rings true to today’s climate, and can certainly speak kindly to a generation of people looking for guidance at a time when the school bully has more power than ever. While the film sometimes tackles a few too many ideas, it does so in an impactful and informative way.