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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

#Like movie review: teen feminist rage, muted

#Like yellow light

MaryAnn’s quick take…

Sarah Pirozek weaves an elegant, noirish tragedy on a micro budget, but it’s far more effective as a portrait of the miserable discomposure of modern teen life than as a feminist vigilante thriller.
I’m “biast” (pro): I’m desperate for movies by and about women and girls
I’m “biast” (con): nothing
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
women’s participation in this film
female director, female screenwriter, female protagonist
(learn more about this)

A year ago, her tween little sister Amelia (Samantha Nicole Dunn) was cyberstalked and bullied into suicide. Now, high-schooler Rosie (Sarah Rich) thinks she’s found the person responsible: a local contractor and, apparently, a creepy grown-ass pedo (Marc Menchaca: The Alamo). And so Rosie, devastated by grief, plots revenge…

With her feature debut, writer-director Sarah Pirozek weaves an elegant, noirish tragedy out of a Kickstarter-funded micro-budget, giving her upstate–New York locations unspoken ironic heft, late-summer small-town idyll sitting perfectly comfortably alongside everyday human darkness. But #Like is far more effective as a portrait of the miserable discomposure of modern teen life than it is as a vigilante thriller. Rosie goes deep down virtual rabbit holes trying to ferret out the identity of her sister’s cyber tormentor, seeking clues — and perhaps seeing things that aren’t there — in Amelia’s online legacy of sweet, naive video diaries and social-media posts. We see through Rosie’s eyes how teen girls’ burgeoning sexuality crashes hard against the remote demands of unseen remote observers wielding, or withholding, likes and other forms of digital approval, and the quiet, quotidian horror of that lingers.

#Like Sarah Rich

TFW you may not have planned your vengeance as well as you’d thought…

It’s when Rosie takes action in the real world that #Like stumbles a bit. Her feminist rage is palpable and plausible — Rich and Pirozek are talents to watch — and the ways in which Rosie’s arrogant adolescent certitude is challenged are keenly observed. But the nagging dissatisfaction of the ending feels less like a commentary on how vengeance doesn’t heal, and more like the story running out of steam before it has said all that might have been said.

Click here for my ranking of this and 2021’s other new films.

yellow light 3 stars

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#Like (2020) | directed by Sarah Pirozek
US/Can release: Jan 26 2021 (VOD)

MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on physical media or digital platform I paid for

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

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