Most upsetting of all are the jurors we meet who helped make McInerney's case a mistrial. The defense team, fighting to keep a kid from spending the rest of his life in jail, decided to present King as the bully, an outré queen flouting local norms and humiliating McInerney until McInerney could take no more. “[Brandon] was solving a problem,” one juror says, to sympathetic nods from her cohort. It's rare, even in good documentaries, to see a moment as nakedly human as that. This is a movie that crowds everything else from your brain, and scenes like that one replayed in my mind for days.

We also hear sympathy for King, of course. LGBT kids at the school praise his smile, his laughter, his courage for being out in a place like Oxnard. And TV clips from the other Larry King and that likable Ellen DeGeneres remind us that things are (too slowly) getting better for King's peers. I hope the parents in places like Oxnard watched those shows or this film, which presents them not as villains or monsters but as somewhat small-minded folks who can find it in themselves to feel a twinge of sympathy for a kid like King but great empathy for one like McInerney, one who hated the same thing they do: having to share this life with people certain of different truths.

One Other Weird Thing: This doc was co-produced by Bunim/Murray Productions, perhaps as bit of Purell for the soul after having so soiled themselves with all those seasons of the Real World/Road Rules Challenge.

Brandon McInerney, who killed classmate Lawrence "Larry" King.
Brandon McInerney, who killed classmate Lawrence "Larry" King.

Details

Valentine Road
Directed by Marta Cunningham
HBO Documentaries
Airs October 7 on HBO
Valentine Road HBO website

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