Film Review: 'A Girl Like Her' - A Story of Two Sides
The cast of 'A Girl Like Her.' (L–R) Hunter King, Jimmy Bennett and Lexi Ainsworth.
We’ve all seen those films set in high school that are filled with cliques ruled by the popular girls and the jocks. However, it is less common for a film to delve into the psyches of these students in a way that bypasses the stereotypes relied upon by so many stories.
From the outset, it becomes clear that A Girl Like Her will go beyond the norm, and through this eye-opening story we get a realistic, hard-hitting look at the whole picture of teen bullying, from the devastating effect upon the victims to the emotional states of the bullies themselves. Written and directed by Amy S. Weber, this unscripted film is a multifaceted, extremely emotional tale that feels very real. Aside from its improvised nature, perhaps it feels so real because the events it portrays do occur every day in high schools around the world, and through this lens, we watch with an unbiased outlook as both stories are told.
Sophomore Jessica Burns (Lexi Ainsworth) has been victimized for the past year by Avery Keller (Hunter King). The two girls were once close friends, but a small incident broke that friendship and precipitated a downward spiral of bullying from Avery and her four sidekicks. When Jessica’s only friend, Brian (Jimmy Bennett), gives her a brooch with a tiny hidden camera to wear, despite her fear of being found out, she is able to document everything for six months, right up until the situation comes to a head.
When a documentary film crew arrives at the high school to document their celebration of being named one of the top schools in America, they get much more than they bargained for and quickly turn the lens towards Jessica and Avery’s story.
The actors and actresses that carry this film, from Ainsworth and King, to Bennett and Jessica’s parents played by Stephanie Cotton and Mark Boyd all give outstanding performances. They capture the emotion of every scene so well that it feels as though this is a documentary rather than a film and they do justice to the real emotions being experienced every day around the world.
Evocative music accompanies the most dramatic scenes, adding its own element to the emotion of each situation, and there are many artistically inspiring shots that show the talent of the filmmakers.
A Girl Like Her sheds light on real issues that many schools are being faced with; that of how to deal with bullying effectively when the victims are scared to come forward and the bullies do not recognize that what they are doing is wrong. More than anything, this film shows that a comprehensive look at bullying is necessary, with help for the bullies and victims alike, as often these issues stem from a negative home life or emotional issues that need to be dealt with from the root.
Jessica and Avery’s story is one that has played out countless times in the past and will no doubt continue long into the future, unless those with control in schools realize the importance of listening and the fact that there really are two sides to every story.
A Girl Like Her opens in San Francisco on Friday, March 27.
Hunter King is popular student, Avery Keller in “A Girl Like Her.”