This documentary tells the story of the almost-rise and sharp descent of Troy Duffy who, in 1997, sold his script The Boondock Saints to Miramax. Duffy was a bartender with an intuitive talent who tapped into the violent post-Tarantino genre of trigger-happy punks, and for a brief period was viewed as the next golden boy. He also had a band called The Brood and had planned to parley his movie success into rock stardom. A triple threat, he also had plans to direct his debut feature.
All this happened just before the documentary, shot by two of Duffy’s friends, begins. It’s obvious the film was originally meant as a record of Duffy’s rise to glory, but as it turns out, it documents his implosion. Duffy had it all offered to him on a platter, and then blew it, with no other justification than being a jerk.
It’s obvious from the get-go that Duffy is a bad karma kind of guy, or, if you don’t believe in that, a tempter of fate. Duffy is so certain he’s going to be a huge success (in his mind, he’s already there) that he doesn’t need anybody’s help unless they’re ready to give it to him on his terms. He’s like a little kid in a constant state of admiring self-regard and potential tantrum, full of obnoxious braggadocio and hurling insults at perceived foes. He seems to be aspiring not to be an artist or a craftsman, but a tyrant. He’s also a heavy boozer, not something that’s going to lead to cool-headed decisions — though the keen sense of persecution he displays when his projects don’t pan out suggest he may be dipping into some even more corrosive substances.
On the other hand, he did write a script that was initially judged worthy of production, and he did finally direct Boondock; even though it tanked in theaters, it’s become a bona fide cult hit on DVD (check it out at amazon.com where it’s inspired almost four hundred customer reviews — an extraordinary number for a low-profile film and more than Hitchcock’s Psycho has garnered). So his talent — which seems to be the ability to create the kind of ludicrously violent film that excites certain folk — isn’t a delusion. And according to a Washington Post reporter quoted in the film, Harvey Weinstein of Miramax, grown wary of Duffy’s ways, passed on production; subsequently no other film company wanted to touch it, out of respect for his negative imprimatur. As the old saying goes, even paranoids have enemies.
But Duffy is the kind of guy who creates enemies and probably needs them to justify his hard-assed view of the world. It’s this overwhelming cluelessness of his that makes Duffy such a fascinating character — at least for the short duration of this film.
Showing at the Maple Art Theatre (4135 W. Maple, W of Telegraph). Call 248-542-0180.
Richard C. Walls writes about film for Metro Times. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.