Writer/Director: Sarah Pirozek
Starring: Marc Menchaca, Sarah Rich
Why are you so angry?
In #LIKE, Rosie (Sarah Rich) is dealing with the first anniversary of her 13-year-old sister Amelia’s suicide. Neither her mom nor herself have received any closure following the incident, and Rosie is unable to shake the feeling that there was a dangerous presence in her sister’s life that they were unaware of. Since Amelia’s death, Rosie has been monitoring her sister’s social media accounts. It is during this routine surveillance that Rosie discovers her sister’s online diary, where Amelia discusses how fearful she is of some of the men who have contacted her online.
This disclosure leads Rosie to a long list of blocked accounts on Facebook, a whole lot of sleuthing, and a commitment to find the person who sexually exploited, bullied, and instigated Amelia’s suicide. Initially, Rosie turns to the police, only to have them say that the man would essentially have to come to the station and confess in order for them to do anything. Accordingly, she decides she has to execute justice herself — vigilante-style. What follows is a smart though dangerous plan to lure @AndrewTamesUnicorns, who she believes is “The Man” — played by Marc Menchaca (Ozark, Homeland) — and avenge her sister.
There have been no shortage of cyber-thriller films, especially those involving sexual exploitation, bullying, and suicide, but #LIKE manages to elevate the genre in an important way. More than just a cautionary tale of cyber-safety, Pirozek’s film is a thoughtful narrative about grief and power. Not only does it raise serious questions about how sexual offenses — especially those conducted in online spaces — are handled, but it also reflects on the complicated network of people who are involved with and affected by such crimes.
While all of the acting here is commendable, Sarah Rich’s debut performance as Rosie is nothing short of fantastic. She delivers each line with the conviction of a well-seasoned actress, and her ability to express a range of emotions drew me in from start to finish. She is able to transition from an average high-school girl at a slumber party, getting high with her friends, to holding a sexual offender hostage in her basement and torturing him while wearing a mask of her sister’s face. The connective thread is that she is very, very angry at a system in which men hold the power and women are silenced.
That said, #LIKE is neither a heavy-handed political rant piece nor does it fall into the repetitive “DOWN WITH THE PATRIARCHY” echo chamber. Rather, it is an extremely smart film that subverts viewers’ expectations of a film about the male gaze. Oh, and let’s not forget the brilliant score and soft, not over-produced aesthetic of #LIKE that contribute in no small part to the excellence of this film.
#LIKE premiered at the Brooklyn Film Festival on Saturday, June 1, 2019.