Bo Burnham's first feature length film takes a scouring look at early teenage life now.
The film follows Kayla, played by Elsie Fisher, as she navigates her way through her final year before high school.
Why is the film painful to watch?
Because it is an excruciatingly accurate depiction of what it is like to grow up in a world where social cliques and social media combine. The film is chronicled by Kayla's videos that she makes for her blogs, 'how tos' for her contemporaries. They are awkward, endearing, and surprisingly wise for a 13 year old.
The relationship between Kayla and her father accurately details the murky waters of the father/daughter dynamic frequently neglected by filmmakers. It is a relationship of attrition, yelling, eye rolling and cringe Dad moments. And underneath it all, the father's sincere persistence to connect with his daughter, his pride in her, is a powerful driving force to the scenes.
But why is it SO painful?
Two words. Elsie Fisher. The film's success relies heavily on Fisher's achingly poignant performance. The casting for the film is strong across the board (these are not the clear-skinned dead-eyed Hollywood drones we normally see) Fisher plays both the loner quiet character who privately is a talkative. She inhabits the character without ego, with apparent ease. Her bravery when she has to enter the pool party of the cruel popular girl in her year group is rousing.
The scene in which Kayla ends up in a car alone at night with her high school partner's male friend is particularly difficult to watch. The moment between Kayla's safety and lack thereof passes by quickly. It's a moment that has happened to so many girls before. It's happened to me. The film sheds a light on how quickly society encourages boys to put their libido before the respect of their female friends. It shows how girls realise young that being polite will keep them safe, to a point.
Why you should watch it...
You should watch it not because it's painful, but because it's truthful.
If you were ever in doubt of what it was like to be a girl growing up in the world, or if you know exactly what it was like but want some closure with your past - watch it.
If you want to watch a film with a pacy script that is both witty and agonising - watch it.
If you want to know what all the fuss is about - watch it.