Amy S. Weber’s heart-wrenching A Girl Like Her begins by solving one mystery while posing another.
As teenager Jessica (Lexi Ainsworth) tries on a spy camera that records from a seemingly impossible p.o.v. angle, the scene is intercut with footage from that same camera a year later as she takes an overdose of prescription hydrocodone.
Ostensibly shooting a documentary about Jessica’s high school’s awesomeness, filmmaker Amy Gallagher (played by director Weber) begins investigating why Jessica attempted suicide, leading her to investigate popular girl Avery (Hunter King), who reportedly bullied Jessica.
A Girl Like Her uses up-to-the-nanosecond technologies and storytelling methods to convey age-old messages about the cycle of violence and bullying — the strong have always preyed on the meek, but there’s often a bigger bully behind the scenes — without taking the fashionable route of suggesting that those technologies have changed human nature for the worse.
Indeed, devices that were once farfetched in Bond films are crucial to the plot in a good way, and A Girl Like Her focuses on the characters’ emotional traumas while eschewing moral panic about how Kids These Days are so wrapped up in their phones and the internet. And speaking of moral panic, to maintain a PG-13, the word “fuck” is bleeped out, but “shit” is not. Thanks for protecting teenagers from how they really speak, MPAA!