Australian director Rolf de Heer's bizarre parable of innocence and corruption, belief and redemption, paints a decidedly grim picture while allowing hints of optimistic humanism to filter through. Bad Boy Bubby (Nicholas Hope) is a 35-year-old manchild, confined his whole life by his domineering mother--who uses him for sex--to a two-room tenement apartment. She has convinced Bubby that the air outside is poisonous, donning a gas mask every time she leaves; all this changes when Bubby's father, a priest who has lost his religion, shows up. His presence both demonstrates the possibility of breathing the air outside, and inspires Bubby to an act of violence that upsets his enclosed world. Finding himself out on the street, the antisocial, nearly mute Bubby must now encounter society, and his adventures run the gamut from poignant and funny to grim and brutal. He is seduced by a Salvation Army worker, adopted by a rock band with whom he performs, imprisoned, raped, and saved again.
An incredibly unique and eccentric film, BAD BOY BUBBY inspired some controversy upon its release, with some judging its themes so dark as to be unethical. But this verdict belies the compassion and empathy latent in the treatment, which expands the piece to encompass both disillusionment with society, as well as hope for humanity. The film noir style presents a gritty, raw view of a corrupt world, presented through honest, innocent eyes.
"[A] cynically funny, righteously blasphemous, surprisingly tender experience." - 04/29/2005 Entertainment Weekly, p.134-135
3 stars out of 5 -- "[D]irector de Heer and Hope play Bubby with fearless integrity....Out there? Sure, but it works." - 07/01/2007 Total Film, p.113
"[A]n extraordinary piece....It moves from the breathtaking originality of its opening sequences into a wandering, rather variable set of vignettes." - 06/01/2007 Sight and Sound, p.85