Ezra Miller, Addison Timlin, Michael Stuhlbarg
Mr. Burke: Is this serious, Robert?
Robert: What do you mean?
Mr. Burke: Is there something wrong with you, Robert? I’m no editor, but I can safely say that was the worst thing I’ve ever seen. You didn’t even have music!
Robert (Miller) is a student at a prep school and is addicted to internet videos. He’s interested in anything that he believes shows “real” life. While filming an empty hallway for a class project, Robert inadvertently films two students – twin sisters – die of a drug overdose. When a cell phone video of the incident makes it onto the internet, Robert becomes part of what he’s so fascinated by. Meanwhile, the school students try to deal with the deaths…especially those that may have played a part in them.
This is a pretty harsh, disturbing, and uncomfortable movie. Yep, uncomfortable would be the best word for it. Any time you’re dealing with teens, drugs, sexuality, etc, it’s going to be a bit awkward. Especially if you add a couple deaths into the mix.
Robert is a loner who doesn’t fit in very well with anyone. He has one friend, Amy (Timlin), a freshman, but Robert’s experience with girls is mostly limited to what he’s seen on the internet. That sort of thing doesn’t translate well to real life, and some of his behavior towards Amy is disquieting.
I liked the way Robert was often shown off to the side or in a corner of a frame, symbolic of his general disconnect and status as an outsider. Though, I have to admit, there were a lot of shots in this movie where there’s just nothing going on in the frame. That can get a little tedious after a while and just feels artsy and self-indulgent.
The movie starts off slowly, but has an ominous feel to it, especially as we start to suspect that the drug overdoses may not have been as accidental as they seem. While the payoff is alright – ambiguous, but still somewhat revealing – I was left feeling a little disappointed in the whole exercise. It just wasn’t impactful enough to leave any real impression on me.
Overall, it’s reasonably well put together, acted well, and has a few interesting things to say about what reality consists of, but it just doesn’t amount to enough to really call it a great movie. Good enough movie, not great.
Guidance counselors shouldn’t just ignore the weird things their students might say.
10 – 1.5 for too many long, slow shots of nothing – 1.4 for just not amounting to much in the end – .4 for being uncomfortable just to be uncomfortable at times = 6.7