|Directed by||Ian Samuels|
|Starring||Shannon Purser, Kristine Froseth, RJ Cyler, Noah Centineo|
|Released on||September 7, 2018(United States)|
Sierra Burgess is a loser is Netflix’s most recent teen rom-com starring Shannon Purser, Noah Centineo and Kristine Froseth. It was easily one of the most anticipated movies of the year and the hype around it was a result of its content and also the fact that Noah Centineo is now a teen heart-throb because of his recent movie To all the boys I’ve loved before.
The story is about Sierra Burgess (Shannon Purser) who wants to get into Stanford but lacks a unique quality – a selling point which would enable her to stand out in comparison to her competitors. She is a talented, hardworking poet/songwriter in the making, is at the top of her class, has a famous father and a successful mother. Overall, she is content with her life. However, she is constantly bullied because of her size – she’s overweight. Veronica (Kristine Froseth) is the popular, mean girl who bullies her and calls her ‘Frodo’ as an insult, which Sierra corrects by saying that it’s the wrong reference. But, she does not let the bullying get to her. She lives her life avoiding and ignoring them with Dan (RJ Cyler), who is her sassy best friend.
However, things and the plotline begins to get messy when Jamey texts Sierra thinking she is Veronica and Sierra begins to fall for him. The odd part about this is the fact that she begins to catfish Jamey, despite knowing that he thinks she is someone else. She appears desperate for affection and validation, suddenly. This would be completely understandable if there was even a glimpse that she felt self-conscious and low-esteemed. But she is shown as someone who is proud of how she is and yet she does something like this – it does not make much sense. Although the plotline looks interesting in the trailer, it is a little hard to watch when I think of what Jamey might be going through.
They do start liking each other and Jamey has only so much as heard her voice and wants a date. So, she enlists Veronica’s help to go on dates in return for tutoring her to win her boyfriend back. This is an interesting twist and after this, their friendship takes off. Their friendship is something to look forward to. It is a unique approach to placing the mean girl with the unpopular girl and show their bonding. It is fun to watch and experience, however, since it is based purely on catfishing, which puts me off sometimes.
So, he begins to fall for her words and her voice. Now, let’s assume everything she did was fair and okay (which it wasn’t) – she then does a few things that really made me dislike her character and pull me out of the story. First, she kisses Jamey when he thinks he is actually kissing Veronica. It’s certainly not a glorious moment for me, because it is not consensual. Imagine, if it were a guy kissing a girl like that, there would be an uproar, but here there’s nothing. Second, she acts like she’s deaf in front of Jamey so she doesn’t have to speak, but Jamey’s brother is actually deaf. It is very painful to watch it and consider it funny because it’s not. If anything, it’s insensitive. I also have a feeling she knew his brother was deaf, having “dated” him for so long – he should have mentioned it at least once. Third, she humiliates Veronica by exposing to the whole school that she was dumped over DM because she kisses Jamey who thinks he is dating her! It is an outrageous thing to do over something so petty and it is very unlike Sierra’s character.
The only justification we get for her behavior is that she cracked – she had had enough of fake positivity when she never was positive and happy with herself. It makes little sense because she never seemed upset with her body size and appearance and was never portrayed as a desperate soul who longs for recognition. Even if she was bold on the outside, there should have been at least a minimal set-up to show that she had her doubts and weak moments. Her actions feel forced, unmotivated and certainly not empowering. She started off so well by calling herself a ‘magnificent beast’ and I had hoped for so much from her, but it all went downhill because she was desperate for a guy. It would have been a lot more interesting if we would have seen a girl who is proud of herself and finds her own way (without having to catfish).
The songs in the film are beautiful and have so much potential. They would’ve done much better if the storyline was altered to her telling Jamey who she is earlier. The pain of rejection – when she sings ‘sunflower’ – that she gets from Jamey would have been understandable if he had rejected her for her looks, but he gets upset because she catfished him, which is completely understandable.
It is on Netflix now, watch it, probably you will enjoy it more than I did!