×

Film Review: ‘Like Me’

A disaffected girl uploads videos of her crimes, including those involving a prisoner, in Robert Mockler’s stylistically far-out indie.

Director:
Robert Mockler
With:
Addison Timlin, Ian Nelson, Larry Fessenden, Stuart Rudin, Jeremy Gardner.
Release Date:
Jan 26, 2018

1 hour 23 minutes

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3204632/

Online media provides no cure for disaffection in “Like Me,” a formally eclectic journey into the dark heart of a twentysomething girl who uploads videos of her criminal activity. Debut filmmaker Robert Mockler uses this premise for an impressionistic portrait of modern estrangement, using all manner of stylistic devices to capture his protagonist’s tumultuous psyche. The film’s lack of a traditional narrative will no doubt alienate many, but for the more adventurous, it offers a uniquely weird take on loneliness and lunacy.

That unconventionality isn’t immediately apparent, as the action opens with a masked girl in a hoodie arriving at a drive-through convenience store. Barging inside, she uses her cell phone to record the increasingly agitated employee (Jeremy Gardner) — then pulls a gun on him, causing him to wet himself. Escaping in her car, the assailant, Kiya (Addison Timlin), returns home. And then, out of nowhere, the action bursts into a bewildering spasm of montage: Kiya’s head shaking blearily; her mouth chewing candy and pizza; a hand on a TV broadcasting static; spinning shots around her as she does push-ups on the floor. The shots freeze, stutter and meld together to Giona Ostinelli’s fuzzy, thudding, looping electro-classical soundtrack of feedback noise.

After this audio-video assault, replete with a garishly overblown color palette courtesy of cinematographer James Siewert, Kiya checks the number of hits on what now appears to have been her prankish attempt to make a viral video — and the comments and user response vids that have greeted its debut. Her initial euphoria turns to misery due to a scathing review from a guy named Burt (Ian Nelson), who profanely lambastes her as a “nobody” who should “do us all a favor and slit your wrists.” The rejection hits Kiya hard, and sends her back out onto the streets, where she picks up a scraggly homeless man and takes him out for a feast at a nearby diner. Alas, upon returning from the bathroom (where she stares at herself in the mirror, pulling at her eye as if to see what’s beneath her skin), she discovers that even this stranger has abandoned her.

Not ready to give up on her quest to forge some kind of relationship with someone, Kiya checks into a motel where she faux-seduces the manager, Marshall (Larry Fessenden), then ties him up for a bit of unappetizing sadomasochism that creates another million-hit YouTube sensation. Their ensuing, deviant-Stockholm Syndrome-ish dynamic is dramatized with little exposition, but many more collage-like aesthetic seizures. Campfires transform into stacks of televisions, glowing eels swim out of gunshot wounds as cars navigate trippy bubble landscapes and swirling-sky vortexes (painted on ceilings and spied in reality) hover overhead — all images that speak to Kiya’s crushing dislocation and isolation.

The avant-garde barrage grows wearisome, but Mocker’s film remains, throughout, laser-focused on his subject’s schizoid condition, which is exacerbated, rather than alleviated, by contemporary technology. Moreover, alongside Fessenden’s typically scraggly-yet-assured turn, the performance of Timlin (2016’s “Little Sister”) brings some equilibrium to the topsy-turvy proceedings, potently conveying the ways in which Kiya employs various guises — tough stick-up woman, generous altruist, nubile temptress, avenging angel — to mask her little-girl hurt and longing for compassion and validation.

Popular on Variety

Film Review: ‘Like Me’

Reviewed online, Stamford, Conn., Jan. 18, 2018. Running time: 83 MIN.

Production: A Kino Lorber presentation of a Dogfish Pictures and Glass Eye Pix production in association with Lankn Partners and Go Infect Films. Producers: Jessalyn Abbott, James Belfer, Robert Mockler, Jenn Wexler, Larry Fessenden. Executive producers: Anthony Gentile, John Gentile, Anya Joseph, Leo Joseph, Peter Phok.

Crew: Director, writer: Robert Mockler. Camera (color, widescreen, HD): James Siewert. Editors: Jessalyn Abbott, Mockler. Music: Giona Ostinelli.

With: Addison Timlin, Ian Nelson, Larry Fessenden, Stuart Rudin, Jeremy Gardner.

More Film

  • Ad Astra Box Office

    Box Office Battle: 'Ad Astra' Takes on 'Rambo: Last Blood' and 'Downton Abbey'

    “Hustlers” and “Good Boys” proved that even in the age of Marvel dominance and remake mania, movies that don’t exist within an established franchise can still be box office draws. Can “Ad Astra” continue that trend? The space drama — starring Brad Pitt and directed by James Gray — arrives on the big screen this [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein Accuser Lucia Evans Breaks

    Harvey Weinstein Accuser Lucia Evans Breaks Silence After D.A. Dropped Charge

    Lucia Evans gave a wrenching account on Tuesday of her efforts to hold Harvey Weinstein responsible for sexual assault, saying she felt betrayed after the Manhattan D.A.’s office dropped her allegations last year. Evans spoke to Variety after giving a speech at a conference on influencer fraud in Manhattan, making her first public comments on [...]

  • Ad Astra

    How 'Ad Astra' Production Crew Created Authentic Look for Brad Pitt Space Drama

    In “Ad Astra,” Brad Pitt’s astronaut Roy McBride crosses the solar system to find and confront his long-lost father, requiring the movie crew to create an authentic-looking future that conveys the theme of traveling long distances to learn the lesson that it’s where you started from that has the most value. “Visually, the aim was [...]

  • Nahnatchka Khan'Always Be My Maybe' film

    'Fresh Off the Boat' Creator Nahnatchka Khan Signs First-Look Deal With Netflix

    Netflix has signed “Fresh Off the Boat” creator and executive producer Nahnatchka Khan to an exclusive multi-year first look deal for feature films. Khan made her feature film directorial debut with “Always Be My Maybe” starring Ali Wong and Randall Park. The romantic comedy premiered on Netflix in May and was seen by 32 million [...]

  • The Mover

    Latvia, Kyrgyzstan, Montenegro, Costa Rica Announce Oscar Contenders

    Latvia, Kyrgyzstan, Montenegro and Costa Rica are the latest countries to announce their entries for the newly rebranded International Feature Film award at the 92nd Academy Awards. All four countries are seeking their first Oscar nomination in what was formerly known as the foreign-language film category. Latvia has selected Holocaust drama “The Mover” (pictured) as [...]

  • The Sky Is Pink

    Toronto Film Review: 'The Sky is Pink'

    Shonali Bose’s much-laureled 2014 “Margarita with a Straw” was a film whose presentation of a cerebral palsy-afflicted heroine sidestepped all the usual hand-wringing inspirational clichés of disability portrayal, making her story all the more enlightening and affecting. It is particularly disappointing, then, that the director’s followup should approach another tale of genetic infirmity with all [...]

  • Jodie Turner-SmithVariety Studio Comic-Con, Day 1,

    'Queen and Slim' Star Jodie Turner-Smith Joins Michael B. Jordan in 'Without Remorse' (EXCLUSIVE)

    After she plays the Bonnie to Daniel Kaluuya’s Clyde in Universal’s romantic thriller “Queen and Slim,” actress Jodie Turner-Smith will join Michael B. Jordan in Paramount’s adaptation of Tom Clancy’s “Without Remorse.” Turner-Smith will play Karen Greer in the movie. As recently announced, Jamie Bell will also co-star as Robert Ritter, the deputy director of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content