I had not heard anything about this film, but my wife saw A Girl Like Her on Netflix and watched it. She recommend that we both watch it as it is about bullying, which is a topic we both care about as we have a daughter in middle school and I teach high school. The film has lots of bad film elements, but the heart of the story is strong and hits the emotional beats well. I give A Girl Like Her the Decent Watch rating.
A Girl Like Her isn’t perfect, but still hits the emotional beats.
Jessica Burns (Lexi Ainsworth) asks her best friend, Brian Slater (Jimmy Bennett), to help prove that one of their school’s most beautiful and popular students, Avery Keller (Hunter King), has been bullying her for the past year after their friendship went sour.
Written and directed by Amy S. Weber, A Girl Like Her has a positive message that manages to get past odd production choices, bad dialogue that feels improvised, and a clearly biased point of view on educators and the role they play in bullying. Starting with production choices, the film is framed as a hybrid documentary and found footage film as Brian and Jessica have captured hours of hidden camera footage and the school has a documentary being made about them at the time Jessica attempts to kill herself.
The scenes on the found footage of Avery bullying Jessica feels badly improvised or poorly written and the scenes of the school being blamed for Jessica’s actions make no sense in the context of this film. The bullying is not shown or said to have ever been reported and the found footage never shows a teacher ignoring Avery’s actions or condoning them in any way. It felt like it was Weber’s opinions coming out in a way that didn’t fit the context of the story.
Hunter is the highlight
That all said, Hunter King manages to give some strong monologues in the way of testimonials. Particularly her final one that almost brought a tear to my eyes. She’s not perfect in the film, but it’s hard to tell if that was improvised or poorly written in those moments. There is enough good from her to warrant a watch of this film. The emotional beats that are hit by Weber work well enough to get the point across that bullying is wrong, but it’s not a new idea. It’s not the best anti-bullying film I’ve seen, but it’s not a horrible film.
If you have a kid or are against bullying on ethical reasons, then this film will probably hit the emotions it is going for. However, documentaries like Bully are probably better at making the same points and are structured a little bit better. While not a bad film, it did manage to both annoy me by film standards yet inspire me to take a stand against bullying.