Standing By Yourself

Filmmaker Josh Koury's senior thesis project at the Pratt Art Institute in Brooklyn, "Standing by Yourself" is an unadorned, verite glimpse into the lives of two directionless teens in a well-appointed upstate New York suburb.

With:
With: Josh Siegfried, Adam Koury, Helen Koury, Roselyn Siegfried, Richard Koury Sr., Richard Koury Jr., Brandon Shorey.

Filmmaker Josh Koury’s senior thesis project at the Pratt Art Institute in Brooklyn, “Standing by Yourself” is an unadorned, verite glimpse into the lives of two directionless teens in a well-appointed upstate New York suburb.

Pic follows its subjects with a remarkable degree of non-interference (particularly considering that one is the director’s younger brother), never seeming calculated to shock but doing so nonetheless; it’s a Larry Clark research project with a grungy, home-movie aesthetic.

Koury taps into teen delinquency and hits a raw nerve, offering a keen profile of adolescent disillusionment. While pic retains a certain shapelessness in its current, hourlong incarnation, it shows promise for feature-length expansion.

Subjects Josh Siegfried and Adam Koury introduce themselves on camera, followed by a series of observational moments from a few days in their lives. As Josh pressures his mother for money to hang out with Adam, the director (who, in true verite style, frequently puts his camera directly into the hands of his subjects) captures the teen’s skillful manipulation of his single parent with fly-on-the-wall verisimilitude.

It’s when the teens are together that the film really takes off. Josh and Adam “act out,” staging rambunctious pranks, drinking cough syrup to get high. They’re true mallrats — middle-class suburban kids eager to raise hell — minus Kevin Smith’s prettifications. Viewers are given access to their private world here in a way that Hollywood films often try but rarely succeed at depicting.

Watching these kids, cultural perceptions about American male youth are alternately invoked and deconstructed: Yes, they’re gross and hopped-up and indelicate; they are the much sought-after audience for “American Pie” and “Jackass”; and they also spit with astonishing frequency. But they’re enormously fragile and scared, too, intimidated by the looming “adult world.” Koury, who isn’t too far from being a teen himself, gets this.

Koury, concerned that he captured only a superficial presentation of his subjects in the initial 20-minute intro, returns several months later to complete the project. At this point, Josh has almost entirely transformed his identity, from preppy to retro-punk (complete with Mohawk and tattered, band-insignia-strewn jacket). Koury takes us deeper inside his own family, too: a loving, but exasperated mother; a remarried father with a “new” family of his own; and an epileptic older brother. This is the section of the film that is most ripe for further exploration, although film does convey a sense of the enormous efforts that has to go into keeping a family together in this day and age.

Ultimately, “Standing by Yourself” is keyed into a kind of middle-class malaise, a festering boredom that can grow into anger at everyone and everything, particularly at what it might mean to wake up one day having turned into your parents. These two teenage boys, desperate to harness identities for themselves, amid a flood of raging hormones and the pressure to “become men” (whatever that means), are representatives of an entire generation. And in the post-Columbine era, Koury’s film has its finger on something particularly potent.

Standing By Yourself

Production: Directed, edited by Josh Koury.

Crew: Camera (color/B&W, video), Josh Koury, Josh Siegfried, Adam Koury, Gerald Lewis; sound, Lewis, Myles Kane. Reviewed at Slamdance Film Festival (competing), Jan. 15, 2002. Running time: 57 MIN.

With: With: Josh Siegfried, Adam Koury, Helen Koury, Roselyn Siegfried, Richard Koury Sr., Richard Koury Jr., Brandon Shorey.

More Film

  • Locarno: Beta Cinema Takes Piazza Grande

    Locarno: Beta Cinema Takes Piazza Grande Entry ‘What Doesn’t Kill Us,’ from Sandra Nettelbeck (EXCLUSIVE)

    Filmmaker Josh Koury’s senior thesis project at the Pratt Art Institute in Brooklyn, “Standing by Yourself” is an unadorned, verite glimpse into the lives of two directionless teens in a well-appointed upstate New York suburb. Pic follows its subjects with a remarkable degree of non-interference (particularly considering that one is the director’s younger brother), never […]

  • Stanley Kubrick Arriflex

    Found: Stanley Kubrick's Lost Screenplay, 'Burning Secret'

    Filmmaker Josh Koury’s senior thesis project at the Pratt Art Institute in Brooklyn, “Standing by Yourself” is an unadorned, verite glimpse into the lives of two directionless teens in a well-appointed upstate New York suburb. Pic follows its subjects with a remarkable degree of non-interference (particularly considering that one is the director’s younger brother), never […]

  • Director Hirokazu Kore-eda holds the Palme

    Juliette Binoche, Ethan Hawke Confirmed for Hirokazu Kore-eda’s ‘Verite’

    Filmmaker Josh Koury’s senior thesis project at the Pratt Art Institute in Brooklyn, “Standing by Yourself” is an unadorned, verite glimpse into the lives of two directionless teens in a well-appointed upstate New York suburb. Pic follows its subjects with a remarkable degree of non-interference (particularly considering that one is the director’s younger brother), never […]

  • STX Targeting August IPO in Hong

    STX Targeting August IPO in Hong Kong (Report)

    Filmmaker Josh Koury’s senior thesis project at the Pratt Art Institute in Brooklyn, “Standing by Yourself” is an unadorned, verite glimpse into the lives of two directionless teens in a well-appointed upstate New York suburb. Pic follows its subjects with a remarkable degree of non-interference (particularly considering that one is the director’s younger brother), never […]

  • ANT-MAN AND THE WASP

    Korea Box Office: ‘Ant-Man’ Stays Bigger Than ‘Skyscraper’

    Filmmaker Josh Koury’s senior thesis project at the Pratt Art Institute in Brooklyn, “Standing by Yourself” is an unadorned, verite glimpse into the lives of two directionless teens in a well-appointed upstate New York suburb. Pic follows its subjects with a remarkable degree of non-interference (particularly considering that one is the director’s younger brother), never […]

  • China Box Office: 'Dying' Holds off

    China Box Office: 'Dying to Survive' Scores $69 Million, Holds Off 'Hidden Man'

    Filmmaker Josh Koury’s senior thesis project at the Pratt Art Institute in Brooklyn, “Standing by Yourself” is an unadorned, verite glimpse into the lives of two directionless teens in a well-appointed upstate New York suburb. Pic follows its subjects with a remarkable degree of non-interference (particularly considering that one is the director’s younger brother), never […]

  • No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No

    'Yellow Submarine': A Dazzling Revival Everyone Should See (Especially the New Leaders of Pixar)

    Filmmaker Josh Koury’s senior thesis project at the Pratt Art Institute in Brooklyn, “Standing by Yourself” is an unadorned, verite glimpse into the lives of two directionless teens in a well-appointed upstate New York suburb. Pic follows its subjects with a remarkable degree of non-interference (particularly considering that one is the director’s younger brother), never […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content