A couple of weeks ago I was invited to review the movie, A Girl Like Her. This description was included with the invite
Ranked one of the top schools in the country, South Brookdale High School welcomes a documentary film crew on campus to chronicle the student body celebration. The camera quickly shifts focus from the pomp and circumstance of academia to the story of a victim and her bully in A GIRL LIKE HER.
Jessica Burns (Lexi Ainsworth) is a 16-year-old girl with a secret she’s afraid to share with anyone, except her best friend Brian Slater (Jimmy Bennett). For the past year, she’s been victimized mentally and physically by one of the most popular girls in her class, a former friend named Avery Keller (Hunter King). With Brian’s help and the use of a hidden digital camera, evidence of Avery’s relentless harassment is finally recorded. But as Jessica begins to face her bully, she realizes her pain is stronger than her hope for things to change. When Jessica reaches a critical point and the film crew turns their lens toward the teen’s incident, Avery’s veil lifts during the documentation— revealing there truly are two sides to every story.
Written and directed by Amy S. Weber, A GIRL LIKE HER is an unscripted, poignant feature film that takes a realistic, inside look at bullying through the eyes of both the bully and the victim. As the film explores the connection and relationship between two individuals, it shines an unbiased light on the teen bullying epidemic and society’s role in breaking the cycle. With powerful performances from a cast including Hunter King, Lexi Ainsworth, and Jimmy Bennett, A GIRL LIKE HER reminds audiences what it means to listen in a world where emotional pain hides behind many façades.
My initial thoughts about the movie:
It was a little slow paced in the beginning which worked well to set up the drama of the movie. The movie begins with the school celebrating their ranking as one of the top schools in the country. The celebration is halted when news comes that a student, Jessica Best, attempted suicide. The sharp turn from celebration to bereavement worked really well at this slower pace. Unlike other movies or works I have read in which the issues are introduced and resolved neatly, this showed how
The teachers seemed so unaware. The interviews with the teachers were difficult to watch. There is seemingly indifferent staff who are totally unaware of what is happening right under their noses. As a parent I wonder if my child is safe. As the adult and authority figure in my own right, it makes me want to me more vigilant.
Could this really happen? The actions of Avery (the bully) towards Jessica (the bullied) seemed so over the top that I wanted to just not believe some thing like this could happen. When I chatted with The Bee about the movie, she told me that she has seen and heard about similar events and shared some of the “beefs” she ahs witnessed on social media.
Sharing with The Teen:
I had The Bee watch the movie a few days later and afterwards we discussed what she was feeling. The Bee shared these thoughts:
The movie was good from the beginning to the end and it felt really real. At first I thought it was going to be boring because my mom didn’t tell me much about the plot and then I watched it. I had so many feelings while I watched and after the movie ended. This movie made me want to stand up to somebody, be an equalizer of sorts. Bullying is on a whole new level with social media added. It’s like another weapon a bully could use to destroy you. For example, Instagram almost makes people beg for likes and the pressure of having likes or not getting enough is hard.
Without giving too much away, people should take away from the movie that it is not OK to put people down no matter what is going on in your life. People should feel free to be themselves and stand up for themselves without fear of some kind of backlash.
The movie is really good and I would watch it again. I think it should be shown in schools so that everyone can experience what it’s like to be bullied and the outcome of bullying. It surprised me to learn that the movie was not real and that these were actors; the documentary felt so real! It was dramatic and moving and I went through so many feelings: I felt sad, angry, hopeless and worried for everyone, including Avery. Especially Avery. She seemed like she had so much but still resorted to being so mean.
This movie makes me want to stand up and speak up and be a leader. I am not sure what that will be but I know that I will not be able to stand by and let people be bullied or harassed without saying anything.
After the Movie
A few days after I watched A Girl Like Her, the movie still weighed heavily on my mind. The word bullying is something that seems to be thrown around so much that I find myself ignoring the seriousness of the word, dismissing it as a thing people say when something is not going their way.
I would encourage everyone to check out this movie. Bullying isn’t just a racial/socioeconomic/gender issue. It’s something that affects us all and something hat we need to be proactive about. It’s not quite entertainment but the message isn’t presented in a way that makes one feel preached at or shamed. A Girl Like Her encourages viewers to take a stand and approach bullying as a community.
A Girl Like Her opens in limited release today, March 27, 2015. I was sent a screener preview of this film to share my thoughts with my readers.