As I’m a teenager, one of the biggest and best things that has entered my life is Netflix. Over the past two years, Netflix has taken the film and television industry by storm and is continuing to develop its release by producing their own television series and films as well as buying the rights to showcase different films for a period of time. So tonight I decided to browse the options to see if any new releases had been added. I wasn’t really feeling a mainstream/Hollywood film, I wanted to find a highly rated independent film that looked interesting. That’s when I came across this film under the category of “emotional dramas”…
“A Girl Like Her” by Amy S Weber intrigued me because it was a relatively new film which had a concept of dealing with teenage issues and was highly rated. A brief synopsis… A 16 year old Girl called Jessica Burns (an outcast) was dealing with being physically bullied by her old friend Avery Keller who is the stereotypical “popular girl” in high school. The bullying got to an extent where Jessica overdosed on some pills and was rushed to hospital in critical condition and on the verge of death. Before the overdose, Jessica’s only friend Brian thought it was a good idea to secretly record the bullying through a hidden camera on a dragonfly broach everyday for 6 months. This evidence saved Jessica’s life in which Avery Keller saw the reality of her actions and was discussed with how it escalated.
Now into some opinions on the film. I found the beginning very confusing… The suicide attempt was shown more or less at the beginning however you didn’t know why and got me questioning what was happening. And clips were bouncing back and forth of Jess when she was conscious after she had overdosed. Also the relationship between her and Brian was unclear until Brian was said to be Jess’ best friend. The next bit I was confused about was the text that appeared around 10 minutes into the film where it claimed that Jessica’s parents allowed the film crew to follow the journey of Jessica… I wasn’t sure whether it was legit or nah. Like there was a woman asking all these people questions and it seemed like a bit of a documentary. I didn’t know whether it was a true story and the parents playing the parents were the actual parents??!! Because if they were then they didn’t seem to act how I would picture parents who might have been in a similar situation. However that’s just my opinion. I was expecting more emotion and tears etc. Okay so the next confusing bit was avery’s family. The way the mother acted when they were eating dinner, wasn’t quite sure what she was trying to achieve because the connotations I got from the scene was that she isn’t close to her husband or children and they all find her annoying and too much to handle. I think it might have been to show the audience why Avery gets stressed and angry which causes her to take it out on others such as Jessica.
Okay so now I’ve got the confusing bits out the way, moving onto the bits I disliked about the film. The main dislike I have is how the bullying was portrayed. To me personally, I would say the actions were very out of date compared to nowadays. Social media is rapidly developing with new apps and ways of communicating and expressing views. In high schools today you don’t seem to get physical/verbal abuse as bad as how it was shown in A Girl Like Her. Avery’s bullying wouldn’t be common in real high schools, it was a bit over exaggerated. Bullying is a very serious matter so I’m not going to go into it too much however I would say cyberbullying is the biggest form of bullying and has been for a while, therefore to gain a more emotional response from the audience would be to include actual forms of bullying that happen in real life because it will affect the audience differently by getting them to think retalisticly about REAL life matters. So for me personally, avery’s character was portrayed as being a bit OTT however still created an emotional response because these things do happen outside the film world which is terryifying. So yes overall if the actions were a bit more realistic considering the year in which the film was made, I think it would’ve been much more eye-opening to the issues some teenagers face today.
Okay now moving on to the positives, I thoroughly enjoyed the cinematography in the film. The use of handheld camera work and the documentary aspect of the camera gave a point of view feeling where the audience felt involved and part of the journey. The close ups of Jessica at the beginning and end of the film were beautiful. Lexi Ainsworth (jessica) is a naturally stunning actress. Another positive I enjoyed was Brian’s emotions towards the situation which was really heart breaking to see how much he cared for Jessica. I also believe that role in particular was important to have in the film because it tells people that have experienced something similar that there is always someone there who cares about you and you’re never alone.
To conclude, I give this film 4/5* because of the emotional connection, the relationship between Jessica and Brian I loved very much and the realisation at the end of what this behaviour could lead to, in this case fatal.