A Girl Like Her (2015) is an American drama film written and directed by Amy S. Weber. Starring Hunter King, Lexi Ainsworth and Jimmy Bennett.
Sophomore year has been a nightmare for Jessica Burns. Relentlessly harassed by her former friend Avery Keller, Jessica doesn’t know what she did to deserve the abuse from one of South Brookdale High’s most popular and beautiful students. But when a shocking event changes both of their lives, a documentary film crew, a hidden digital camera, and the attention of a reeling community begin to reveal the powerful truth about A Girl Like Her.
PG-13. 91 minutes. Watch the trailer here …
My thoughts… A Girl Like Her is a harrowing, heartbreaking and, sometimes, hard to watch teen drama. If you are a high school teen or the parent of a high school teen, you must watch this brilliant film – now! My 13-year-old daughter chose this film for us to watch on movie night [after we watched the horror film Ouija (2014)!] and, before it was over, we were both crying like babies!
Avery Burns (Hunter King) is the most popular girl in school. She is the Queen Bee. Everyone loves her – except Jessica Burns (Lexi Ainsworth). Avery and Jessica used to be best friends. Now, Jessica is an outcast and Avery torments her incessantly in the school halls and online. Jessica’s best and only friend Brian (Jimmy Bennett) rigs a hidden camera on her to document the bullying but it’s too late – Jessica can’t take anymore. “Why does she hate me so much?” she wonders, drained and beaten, to Brian. Later that night, Jessica attempts suicide by overdosing on pills. At the same time, filmmaker Amy begins shooting a documentary about the school and, soon, the truth about Avery and Jessica comes out.
A Girl Like Her is presented as a mix of Jessica’s hidden camera footage and Amy’s faux documentary. However, it is so achingly realistic that I wondered, at first, if it were, in fact, an actual documentary. It is not. It is a work fiction that, sadly, is “based on a million true stories”. The twist in this stunning portrayal of bullying is that it shows both sides. Sure, Avery is the bully and we hope that she gets what she deserves for pushing Jessica to the edge but at the same time we see why she feels compelled to do what she does. In A Girl Like Her, and a million other true stories, there isn’t just one bully and one victim – there are two people who are hurting in different ways and both of them need help. However, it is much more difficult to sympathize with the bully’s pain. We’re only human after all.
My only problem with this film is the last few seconds. I think writer/director Amy S. Weber thought her film might be a little too dark so, at the very last minute, she added a ray of hope. She shouldn’t have. The film loses much of its impact with those few brief seconds. It should have ended right after Avery’s final testimonial, her emotional apology to Jessica. However, up to those last few seconds, A Girl Like Her is one of the most powerful teen dramas I have ever seen!
If you appreciate this film’s stark teen realism, check out 2:37 (2012) as well.