movie reelist poster placeholder

A Girl Like Her

Coming Soon

I was bullied when I was kid. I was smacked and punched in a classroom of my peers while the teacher was away. I had my clothes stolen after gym class, then bare-ass spanked with my own shoes. I’ve been labeled numerous variations of fat and freckled. I melted into isolation believing that if I snitched it would make my situation worse. I hated junior high school.

I eventually became a bully.

The lesson to be learned from Amy S. Weber’s new film A Girl Like Her is that bullies should be heard. Society is quick to dismantle the bully before questioning how that person became a bully. There needs to be accountability as well as intellection of the underlying cause of that behavior. A Girl Like Her encourages that conversation.

The tools at a bullies disposal have evolved exponentially. The advent and acceptance of social media has the potential to achieve so much good, but the anonymity has created a platform for intimidation. I was able to escape my bullies at the end of a school day, but today’s teens are harassed day and night. Such is the case at South Brookdale High involving two teenage girls.

A documentary film crew is celebrating South Brookdale High in recognition of the school’s academic achievements. But just as quickly as the cameras begin to roll, news of a student’s attempted suicide rocks the community. The film crew turn their lenses to Jessica (Lexi Ainsworth) and Avery (Hunter King).

The girls used to be good friends until a falling out left Jessica on the receiving end of Avery’s physical, verbal and emotional attacks. The torment drives Jessica to drown in pills, but not before she begins documenting the abuse. Through found-footage and secondary footage captured by Jessica’s friend Brian (Jimmy Bennett), the audience experiences that terror.

Without making excuses for her behavior, the film crew desire to understand how Avery became so evil. They offer Avery a camera in hopes she will “tell her side of the story” and we discover that the bully is tormented by her own demons.

The overall effect is a moralizing experiment, but the finale degrades into pontification and an annoying score to accentuate the remorse. I get the message Weber attempts to make, but the end result is too celebratory. There are slip-ups in Weber’s storytelling and how all this footage is captured seems all too convenient for my tastes, however, viewers shouldn’t get distracted. Weber and her director of photography Sam Brownfield make the found-footage palatable. The young actors deliver exceptionally-poised performances considering the entire film is improvised.

A Girl Like Her is designed to encourage conversation about an epidemic plaguing our children, it is inspired by millions of true stories. While teens are already organizing screenings of the film, I’m recommending parents and teachers get involved as well. There is an important moment where Jessica reveals to her parents that “everything is fine.” This was my go-to line whenever my mom would inquire about my well-being, but inside I was afraid of retaliation and so I fought the battles alone. I regret that decision, but fear can be crippling. Please be wary of this response if you suspect your child is struggling at school. Please don’t be afraid to speak-out against your bully or if you suspect someone is being bullied.

A Girl Like Her is streaming now on the following services:
Movie Reelist Contributor: Chris Giroux
Chris Giroux is founder and editor-in-charge at Movie Reelist, an entertainment news and review blog serving the most fanatic moviegoers. Chris started his publication in Detroit in 2010 and has since reviewed hundreds of films and interviewed numerous talent across the country. He is an avid film festival attendee and red carpet photographer, having shot the likes of Steven Spielberg, Bill Murray, Mark Hamill, and more. Chris grew up in New Mexico, where he studied mass media writing while working in post-production and multimedia authoring. It is also where he discovered Big Trouble in Little China and Escape from New York, resulting in an unhealthy Kurt Russell obsession.

Leave a comment...