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Gay middle-schooler Lawrence 'Larry' King holds a dress given to him by a sympathetic teacher, in an image from "Valentine Road." Courtesy Sundance Institute
Sundance review: "Valentine Road"

"Valentine Road"

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U.S. Documentary

*** (three stars)

Director Marta Cunningham gets behind the tabloid headlines of a school shooting, in this remarkable evenhanded documentary. The story: In 2008, California middle-schooler Brandon McInerny shot classmate Lawrence King twice in his head, which ultimately killed him. The motive: King, who was gay, had said "Be my valentine" to McInerny. While the media found a case study in bullying, and McInerny's attorneys try to mount a "gay panic" argument, Cunningham interviews both boys' friends and classmates to find parallel tragedies in bad child-rearing. The movie bends over backwards not to demonize McInerny or beatify King, delivering instead a fair-minded portrait of two children set on a collision course thanks to the failings of adults at every level.

-- Sean P. Means

"Valentine Road" screens again: Sunday, 5:30 p.m., The MARC Theatre, Park City; Wednesday, Redstone Cinema 2, Park City; Friday, Yarrow Hotel Theatre, Park City; Saturday, 12:30 p.m., Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, Salt Lake City.

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