Riveting and gut wrenching. Sadistic and sad. Tragic and terrifying.
As a mom, those are the words that came to mind watching A Girl Like Her, an indie film by Amy S. Weber. I both wanted it to end and couldn’t bear leaving my seat when it was over.
Filmed in a documentary style (the film is a fictional but all too real story), the movie chronicles the story of a bully and the bullied, with each girl documenting life in high school from their own perspectives. It’s the classic tale of the popular girl, Avery Keller (played superbly by Hunter King), surrounded by her legion of friends, who antagonizes the un-cool girl, Jessica Burns (Lexi Ainsworth is excellent as the sweet but shy bullied girl) – the one without the fabulous clothes and incredible fashion sense.
You see from very early on in the movie that the tale takes a tragic turn, and the rest of the film offers flashbacks intertwined with updates on the condition of the girl who ends up at death’s door. The emotions the film stirs up range from anger to sadness, despair to frustration. I actually had to remind myself to breathe a few times during the film, watching Jessica’s only friend Brian (the incredible Jimmy Bennett) deal with the situation Jessica is in as well as being the brunt of Avery’s torture.
When the tide of public opinion eventually turns, and the film gives you a glimpse into the back story of Avery, you are literaly torn after swearing your allegiance to the downtrodden Jessica. It’s a twist of emotion you don’t expect.
This is powerful and emotional, and I cannot recommend enough that you see this – as a parent, as a teacher, and definitely as an adolescent trying to navigate life in high school. A Girl Like Her will open your eyes to bullying in ways you don’t expect.