Where I Watched It: Hulu
Audio Description Provided By: Descriptive Video Works
As I sit here and write something for my blog, after having recorded a video for my YouTube, I realize this film that is trying to say something about the presence of social media in our lives has effected the way many of us interact and make choices in our regular lives. So, while I’m fairly certain this film will not be for everyone, I think it is actually trying to say something.
What that something is, will be based largely around how Zoey Deutch’s performance resonates with you. For me, and this is different than many other critics, I didn’t see her as a sociopath. I saw her as a legitimately disconnected and lonely young woman who sees life passing her by, and has no idea exactly how to jump in. It’s not that she’s unlikeable from the beginning, it’s that she craves connection and attention so badly that she’s willing to make a bad choice when she believes the payoff could be that people notice her.
What she doesn’t quite have planned for is that her simple lie turns catastrophic, and it’s that moment that she’s presented with that sends her character down a dark path. She isn’t inherently evil, but she absolutely took the wrong pill, or road when the path diverges. I’m sure there are purists that would have a problem with her lie no matter what, but I think she even had a moment where she could have gotten out of it by making it home safely, saying she wasn’t near any of the attacks, had no idea what was going on, and didn’t consider herself a survivor. But that would have made for a more sympathetic character, and we need to dislike Deutch so we can later be introduced to a real survivor played by Mia Isaac.
Isaac, who just recently killed it in Don’t Make Me Go, is back with a tremendous, award worthy performance, as Rowan, a survivor of a school shooting who meets our lead when she starts attending survivor meetings. Rowan, through Isaac, is this complex force, determined to make a change in the world, but still haunted by the tragedy of her past. She’s still constantly grieving, while trying to be brave as she becomes a social media sensation and the central voice in an anti-gun movement. At times, she has the strength of an army, and just seconds later has the fragility of a porcelain doll. Rowan challenges Isaac with such range, it’s amazing and captivating to watch her meet and exceed every challenge.
Even as the two characters grow close, the audience is acutely aware that Deutch is there for all the wrong reasons, but yet she has offered Rowan this surrogate sister that seems so valuable to Rowan, that you almost don’t mind that this relationship keeps going so it doesn’t hurt Rowan anymore than she already has been hurt, considering she survived the shooting but her sister did not.
I wasn’t quite expecting this complex of a movie, and I got all of that not from our lead/protagonist/antagonist, but rather from Mia Isaac’s tremendous supporting work that i will likely be putting in my Top 10 supporting actress performances of the year. you can almost bet on that.
The film is far from perfect, especially with regard to the Colin character, who feels so out of place. I’m supposed to believe this Kevin Federline wannabe has a job, which is an impossible feat for me, or that anyone would find him interesting enough to follow in Instagram. He’s a character written for a different film, but trapped in this one. I did love the Guinea Pig, which was so well trained, and made me believe we could all own a Guinea Pig that had a functionality close to that of a cat.
It’s not a perfect film, but whatever problems it does have, Mia Isaac is still the reason to watch this film. Rowan is a character i will remember, and Mia Isaac is now an actress I’m excited to see in future projects.
The Blind Perspective: Hulu opted to not share the narrator’s name in the credits. Also, there was a small moment in the narration I feel like should have been caught. There’s a non-important co-worker that is having a conversation with Zoey, who is zoned out at the time and not listening, about how she inspired him to eat a cookie. in the narration, we get the line that he “takes a bit out of cookie”. Not “the cookie’, but just “cookie”, like the name of it is Cookie, and it’s sentient, and wondering why this dude is eating them.
Final Grade: B+