Reviewed by: Jane Fae

Sarah Rich in #Like
"Pirozek knows exactly what she is doing and while this film will likely attract loud and widespread cries of #NotAllMen from the less fair sex, women will understand very well what is happening here."

#Like is dark. Very dark. According to the blurb, a 'feminist noir thriller' about 'a teenager investigating the online sexual exploitation behind her sister's suicide', though maybe that is not entirely accurate. Not all that is going on here.

Think Baise-Moi. Think Girl With The Dragon Tattoo; films in which victim turns avenger. The wronged woman takes the law into her own hands and exacts revenge. Those are a good place to start. Or perhaps Beguiled is the better parallel: the bad guy at the mercy of the supposed weaker sex. Time to pay for past misdeeds. Except....

Copy picture

Has she got the right guy?

The film opens to typical teenage angst. Rosie (Sarah Rich) is online in her bedroom, chatting to her friends. But she is unhappy. Blocked by a past that will not go away, that keeps her and her mother stuck inside events of a year previous when sister Amelia (Samantha Nicole Dunn) killed herself.

Who is to blame? That is the question that haunts her, prevents her moving on. So she determines to find out, sets an online trap and finds a guy (Marc Menchaca) who fits the bill. Then what? Confront him?

No. Rosie takes the logic of her situation one step further, kidnapping him, imprisoning him in an effort to force a confession. Which is where the film begins in earnest. Did he? Didn't he? You just know that there is no simple answer and, if you are familiar with film noir, whatever you think you know is probably not it. So you think he did it? Maybe he didn't? But if you decide he did...will the final denouement prove you wrong?

That, then, is the artistry of this film: its ability to keep you guessing until the very last frame and maybe beyond as well.

Because at one level, the point of this film is that it doesn't matter. In arriving at a final conclusion, Rosie has many encounters with men. Each, in his turn, displays nice and creepy attributes in equal measure. The central message from director Sarah Pirozek is the essentially feminist one that men, as a class, cannot be trusted. Think you know one? Think again? As Rosie rebukes her captive at one point, “Stop pretending to be nice!”. Because they are at their most dangerous when at their most plausible.

In a further reversal of film convention, Rosie's “victim” remains unnamed throughout, appearing in the credits only as 'The Man'. Harsh? But how often does the film industry do this to women whose only role, not just in film noir, but in wider society and in media reporting of crime, is to turn up on the mortuary slab as unnamed victim?

Pirozek knows exactly what she is doing and while this film will likely attract loud and widespread cries of #NotAllMen from the less fair sex, women will understand very well what is happening here. Because she is exposing something about the way we look at crime that is so deeply ingrained as to go almost unnoticed in everyday life.

Ah yes: hashtag NotAllMen. There is another feature of this film that marks out who it is for. If you are a social media user you will be well aware of how hashtags get used to promote and disseminate themes, concepts, ideas. And you will be well aware of the specific #NotAllMen meme that is frequent locus for online debate.

Of course, this is a film for all ages: but from the start it is very clear that some aspects of it will not be quite so accessible if you are not part of the social media generation. From Rosie's first engagement with her sister's social media pages, to her attempts to break her passwords, to the methods she uses to track down who might have shown online interest in her. All of these will be familiar to those who grew up with the internet. Less so to their parents and grandparents.

Even the fact that the initial sleuthing is not just online, but so pedestrianly online. Not gee whizz! Look how clever Rosie is being, but a look at how the ordinary everyday teenager spends her life.

That, too, explains the film title - #Like, not simply 'Like' - which is both subtle reference to online life and also a hint at something darker in teenage life. That for many it is all about the 'likes' that they receive: and that in the end, achieving that objective may lead individuals to do things they will later regret.

A slick, modern, interesting film. And one that may, I fear, quite outrage a lot of men. #LOL

Reviewed on: 31 May 2019
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#Like packshot
A young woman vows revenge on the man who sexually exploited and bullied her sister online.

Director: Sarah Pirozek

Writer: Sarah Pirozek

Starring: Sarah Rich, Marc Menchaca, Jeff Wincott, Dakota Lustick, Liz Meinders, Jolene Marquez

Year: 2019

Runtime: 95 minutes

Country: US


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