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Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

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"Moody images don't make for high drama and even at a trim 87 minutes, the story feels stretched." | Photo: Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival

"I don't remember," teenager Mandy (Rhianne Barreto) tells a friend, "I just woke up on the lawn."

The reason she doesn't remember is because she was blind drunk, as a viral video being passed round her classmates the next day shows. With bruises on her back and arms, she soon guesses that the humiliation by her friend AJ (Nicholas Galitzine) in the video is only the half of it. Director Pippa Bianco - expanding her feature debut from her 2015 short of the same name - takes a character study approach, moving past more familiar themes of cyberbullying and 'slut shaming', to present Mandy's problem as considerably more complex and in a non-sensationalist way.

Mandy's friends, by and large, stick by her and her parents, who quickly find out, offer her understanding and support - but despite all this, we begin to see how, although her initial desire is to somehow plough on through the situation, she is on a pathway to increasing isolation thanks to the good intentions of adults. There are interesting ideas in Bianco's movie, not least the endemic nature of this sort of footage. The instantaneous quality of smartphone video means that things that seem funny when drunk - and the implication is that Mandy has joined in laughing at others in similar situations in the past - can be much more damaging in the cold light of day.

Bianco also suggests that Mandy's desire to stay in school and tough it out until the video becomes yesterday's news may not be as awful a suggestion as her parents (JC MacKenzie and Poorna Jagannathan) think it is. The director likes impressionistic shots, making much of street lights on wet car window panes and the blinking lights of Mandy's hypnotherapy sessions but there's only so much of Mandy staring into space that we can take. Moody images don't make for high drama and even at a trim 87 minutes, the story feels stretched.

Mechanical problems also arise. Why, given the deep concern of her parents and their awareness her 'binging' phone is piling up with trolling messages, do they not swap it out for another? It doesn't make sense - except for the fact Bianco needs the phone later. The small pool of characters - including the vaguely sketched Dylan (Charlie Plummer) and Mandy's best mate Jenna (Lovie Simon) - means that plot development options are also limited. A solid calling card then, helped by an atmospheric pulsing score by US electronic artist Shlohmo and good lensing from cinematographer Ava Berkovsky, but hopefully next time round, Bianco will spend more time developing her characters as fully as her ideas.

Reviewed on: 01 Feb 2019
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After discovering a disturbing video from a night she doesn’t remember, 16-year-old Mandy must try to figure out what happened and how to navigate the escalating fallout.


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