The line between fiction and reality can often be a blurred one in Hollywood with over dramatising true stories put the audience in a position to debate what is ‘real’ within the films narrative. A Girl Like Her is a movie that explores the reverse of this effect. A documentary style of storytelling to portray a fictional tale, making us wonder whether there is some truth behind the films premises.
A Girl Like Her is an indie drama that takes the found-footage approach to portray a teen’s view of bullying. Writer-director Amy S. Weber has made a film that examines the harassment of one high school girl by another, seeing the point-of-view from the victim as well as the bully and the aftermath it has on each of their lives.
A Girl Like Her tells the well-worn story of teenage bullying and suicide. Jessica (Lexi Ainsworth) is bullied mercilessly by former friend and popular girl Avery (Hunter King), leading to Jessica’s eventual suicide attempt.
This puts Jessica in a hospital bed, stuck in a coma, while her family, school staff, and friends attempt to figure out what drove Jessica to take the drastic action.
The two young female leads are incredibly cast, delivering strong and believable performances. The movie benefits from Weber’s interest in understanding what motivates the bully to be exactly that rather than having them portrayed as a complete monster. However, this is where the movie stumbled in my eyes.
While it started off as an interested approach towards a look into an issue that has plagued our young lives for generations, the reasoning for the bully to adopt that role though is hard to believe. Flashbacks of a sweet, shy Jessica composed with footage from a hidden camera her best friend Brian (Jimmy Bennett) made her to wear, is juxtaposed with Avery’s video diaries, as the she is asked to document her life as being a “popular girl” in school.
We are introduced to the typical rich girl who has everything she could want but faces home life of argumentative parents type of angle, and that’s all we are really given as the reason behind her being a bully. You can see the harsh home life angle Weber tries to portray, but in reality having parents that argue isn’t exactly THAT bad for her to take it out on people. It felt as though Weber should have made Avery’s home life a bit more unbearable to fuel her actions that made a former friend attempt to take her life.
One of the movies strong points is that it captures Jessica’s openheartedness and sweet personality well, making the moments she feels ashamed and embarrassed at receiving relentless abuse rather heart breaking. Weber does a great job showing how emotional pain, mixed with the social proscription against snitching can lead to a person feeling isolated and left repeatedly asking themselves the question “why me?”
As with a lot of ’mockumentary’ style films, the need to address certain Hollywood rules interfere with making the movie seem ‘real’. Any rough language in the ‘nonfiction’ footage is bleeped, making you wonder why they would do that in a documentary about the fatal effect of bullying. Presumably it is done to meet the real-world PG rating. The overused soundtrack for the film also has a similar effect on reminding people that this is not documentary.