Sarah Pirozek’s #Like

The internet is a dangerous place, and the issues arising from it make for some pretty provocative, challenging films. Sarah Pirozek’s #Like tries desperately to be one of these films and falls frustratingly, maddeningly short of being effective with a narrative that starts out incredibly promising and just nosedives so hard it disheartens the viewer. It tells the depressing story of a teenage girl (Sarah Rich) who is dealing with the grief of losing her younger sister one year prior, after a cruel and vicious cyber bullying incident ended in her taking her own life. The forum user responsible for the despicable act was never found or charged, and now, a year later, she thinks she might have a lead on them based on old chats from her sister’s computer. She brings this information to a police detective (Jeff Wincott) who is too busy and too tied up in red tape protocol to be of any help, so she attempts to track this person down on her own and deliver what she believes to be justice. She does end up finding someone with coincidental ties to the event, a middle aged construction contractor (Marc Mancheca) who she promptly lures to her shed and imprisons indefinitely. From there the film falls into sadistic doldrums as she tries to make him own up to what he maybe did, and here is where it all just goes bananas. The problem is, she was never one hundred percent sure that this is the right guy, and you have to be sure in situations like this, so my sympathy meter quickly ran dry for this girl as she subjects the man to all kinds of torment and it becomes steadily clear that he’s most definitely not who she’s looking for. It’s a cruel, misguided narrative stunt to pull that leaves a bad taste and an aura of extreme malaise in the air, which I’m sure is deliberately meant to mirror her confusion, lack of resolution and anger over losing her sister and never having anyone to properly blame, but it just felt like a weird storytelling choice to me. The actors are all terrific, no complaints there, the cinematography and locations have this lived-in, upstate burnished quality to them that sets atmosphere nicely and the first act of the film really does draw you in… until it loses itself hopelessly to a tone deaf basement captivity routine that just numbed my bones and stalls any narrative progression fatally. Twice during the film there’s a soundtrack choice with the repeated lyrics “Do I make you uncomfortable?” Well if that’s a question the filmmakers are asking then my answer is yes, you did make me uncomfortable with your film, but not in a constructive, illuminating or thematically effective way, just in an icky, ill advised way. A film needs more than that to get any kind of message across intact, and this one sadly drops the ball.

-Nate Hill

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