German festival release poster
|Directed by||Larry Clark
|Produced by||Kees Kasander
|Written by||Larry Clark
|Edited by||Andrew Hafitz|
Kasander Film Company
|Distributed by||Vitagraph Films (US)
Ken Park is a 2002 drama-erotic film written by Harmony Korine, who based it on Larry Clark's journals and stories. The film was directed by Clark and Ed Lachman. The film is an international co-production of the United States, the Netherlands, and France. The film revolves around the abusive and/or dysfunctional home lives of several teenagers, set in the city of Visalia, California.
The opening of the film depicts teenager Ken Park (nicknamed "krap nek") skateboarding across Visalia. He arrives at a skate park, where he casually sits in the middle of it, sets up a camcorder, and shoots himself in the head with a handgun. His death is used to set up the rest of the film, which follows the lives of four other teens he used to hang out with, shortly before the suicide.
Shawn is the most stable of the four main characters. He has an ongoing sexual relationship with his girlfriend's mother, Rhonda, throughout the story. He casually socializes with her family, who, including his girlfriend, are completely unaware of the affair.
Claude fends off physical and emotional abuse from his alcoholic father while trying to take care of his neglectful pregnant mother, who never does anything to defend him. Claude's father detests him for being insufficiently manly, but after coming home drunk one night, he attempts to perform oral sex on him, causing Claude to run away from home.
Peaches is a girl living alone with her extremely religious father, who fixates on her as the embodiment of her deceased mother. When her father catches her and her boyfriend, Curtis, on her bed about to have sex, he beats the boy and savagely disciplines her, including forcing her to participate in a quasi-incestuous wedding ritual with him.
Tate is an unstable and sadistic adolescent living with his grandparents, whom he resents and frequently verbally abuses. He is shown engaging in autoerotic asphyxiation during masturbation. He eventually murders his grandparents in their bed, in retaliation for his grandfather "cheating" at Scrabble and his grandmother for "invading his privacy". Committing the murder arouses him sexually.
The film cuts frequently between subplots, with no overlap of characters or events until the end. As Tate is being arrested, Shawn, Claude, and Peaches meet and have sex as a threesome. The ending finally reveals the motive behind Ken Park's suicide: he had impregnated his girlfriend, who responded to his suggestion of an abortion by asking if he regretted his mother not aborting him. Concluding that he did, he skates off to kill himself.
- Adam Chubbuck as Ken Park
- James Bullard as Shawn
- Stephen Jasso as Claude
- Tiffany Limos as Peaches
- James Ransone as Tate
- Maeve Quinlan as Rhonda
- Eddie Daniels as Shawn's mother
- Seth Gray as Shawn's brother
- Bill Fagerbakke as Bob
- Patricia Place as Tate's grandmother
- Harrison Young as Tate's grandfather
- Amanda Plummer as Claude's mother
- Wade Williams as Claude's father
- Julio Oscar Mochoso as Peaches' father
- Zara McDowell as Zoe
- Mike Apaletegui as Curtis
- Richard Riehle as Murph
- Larry Clark as Hot dog vendor
Clark attempted to write the first script for Ken Park, basing it on personal experiences and people with whom he had grown up. Dissatisfied with his own draft, he hired Harmony Korine to pen the screenplay. Clark ultimately used most of Korine's script, but rewrote the ending. The film was given a $1.3 million budget. The arrangement was to film using digital video, but Clark and Lachman used 35mm film instead.
Although it was sold for distribution to some 30 countries, the film was not shown in the United Kingdom after director Larry Clark assaulted Hamish McAlpine, the head of the UK distributor for the film, Metro Tartan. Clark is alleged to have been angry over McAlpine's remarks about 9/11. Clark was arrested and spent several hours in custody, and McAlpine was left with a broken nose. The film has not been released in the United States since its initial showing at the Telluride Film Festival in 2002. Clark says that this is because of the producer's failure to get copyright releases for the music used. The film was banned in Australia due to its graphic sexual content and portrayals of underage sexual activity after it was refused a classification by the Australian Classification Board on June 6, 2003. A protest screening held in Sydney was shut down by the police. The films remains banned in Australia to this day and has not been successfully appealed since.
- Ken Park at the Internet Movie Database
- Inside Film Magazine's Phillip Cenere reports on Australian ban of Ken Park
- Ken Park @ Harmony-Korine.com