A grimly fascinating cinéma-vérité documentary about a bunch of kids (aged between 13 and 19) living rough on Pike Street, Seattle. Unable or unwilling to live with their parents, the kids hustle a living by begging, diving into garbage dumpsters for thrown-out pizzas, and selling their bodies. Seen through the unblinking eye of Bell's sharply focused camera, the kids flirt with, fight, support and sometimes exploit one another. Police, social workers and parents drift in and out, but their concern for the kids' long-term future seems irrelevant in the face of their immediate struggle to survive until the next meal or meal-ticket. Saddest of all, given the raw deal they've had from the system, is the kids' unquestioning conservatism. All they want from life is a nice house, a colour TV, and a life-style that conforms to their soap opera ideals. The inevitable reservations aside (56 hours of footage reduced to 91 minutes; the occasionally voyeuristic camerawork), this is an impressive achievement. Bell and his team clearly gained the confidence of their subjects, and despite their depressing lives, the kids reveal themselves in all their naive vitality.
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