Thursday, June 30, 2016

A Girl Like Her - 7 stars out of 10

A Girl Like Her - 7 stars out of 10

"A Girl Like Her" starts off feeling like a Lifetime movie but slowly develops into a gripping drama about a bully who pushes her target to the edge.  Every high school student should watch this movie.  It is a very real look at the psychological effects of bullying and how quickly it can escalate.  The characters may seem over the top at times but the scary thing is that they aren't actually exaggerated.  There are groups of high school girls that actually act this way.  One of the most important parts of the story is that it traces the development of teenage personality traits and morals to the parents.  Whether it is a dad pushing his son into sports in order to relive his own high school glory days or the “mean girl” mom whose daughter has inherited her attitude and disrespect for authority, the behaviors of many troubled teens are learned at home.  The film does a good job of manifesting this in Avery and contrasting her with Jessica, who gets her kindness from her all-star parents.  Another important moral in this story is that the bullies need help, too.  It is easy to assume that bullies are heartless evildoers but often times, their bullying is a reaction to an issue in their own lives.  This mockumentary isn't going to win any Oscars but it is extremely effective for what it is.  The producers were tedious in creating a sound rationale for every minute of footage by incorporating a documentary crew, a hidden bodycam, and video on a personal still camera into the story.  This is enhanced by using different camera angles and video quality for each of these recordings.  You wouldn’t expect much in the acting department because the lead girls have built their resumes on soap operas but Hunter King gives an unexpectedly raw performance.  She is so easy to hate for the majority of the film as she puts on a stereotypical mean girl performance.  Then, the progression of guilt begins.  The layers are quickly peeled away as we begin to see Avery’s insecurities, understand why she acts the way that she does, and finally see her devastating regret.  You would never expect to feel any sort of empathy for Avery throughout the first half of the film but the final 10 minutes are vivid with one of the most realistic crying breakdowns that I have ever seen onscreen.  “A Girl Like Her” is a powerful piece that will make anybody reexamine the way that they treat others and should become a material that will spark important conversations among high school students.

[Pictured: The bodycam angles bring back all of your least favorite memories from high school]

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