Share, written and directed by Pippa Bianco from her 2015 short of the same name, is certainly one of this year’s most difficult-to-stomach films, but it is also perhaps the most important, dealing with important and urgent topics with an honesty and sincerity unlike any you have ever seen before.
This movie is about a sixteen-year-old girl whose life is turned upside down when a disturbing video is released from a night she doesn’t remember. However, unlike most other films that deal with this subject matter, Share doesn’t linger on the event itself or its immediate impact, instead exploring the long-term psychological consequences it has on the victim. With this, Bianco is able to provide a harrowing snapshot of what it means to be a victim of assault in the modern world.
Bianco takes the time to explore some of the deeper issues that are associated with this form of sexual assault in a way that will hopefully open up the conversation and lead to improvements in the way that we approach and treat victims. Some of the more sensitive topics addressed in the movie include the ideas of victim shaming and victim blaming, a phenomenon that is sadly becoming more and more prevalent in discussions of sexual assault.
However, rather than villainizing the characters who are shaming the protagonist, Bianco approaches them in a more nuanced way. As opposed to attacking people who react to assault this way, Bianco successfully shines light on the mindset that leads to victim shaming and its underlying causes, using this approach to propose a solution to the issue. As a result, the film comes across as enormously respectful to the victims of these horrendous crimes.
Unless if you are of the aforementioned victim shaming mindset, it is tremendously difficult not to feel tremendous sympathy for the protagonist. The movie does an excellent job of characterizing Mandy to feel like more than just a victim. Over the course of the film, we are able to get an understanding of her personality and how it was changed and broken down by her experiences.
The supporting characters are also quite well-written. Mandy’s parents, for example, are extremely complex characters with a very compelling arc. One of the most riveting parts of the movie is watching the relationship between Mandy and her parents and how it changes over the course of the investigation. Mandy’s father has an interesting solo arc too, exploring how he comes to terms with his lack of control over his daughter’s life.
The most impressive thing about this film is that Bianco is able to approach the script in a way that feels absolutely real and candid. Nothing about this movie feels sensationalized or over-the-top. Everything is done in a way that is subtle, and because of this, the film has a natural emotional impact. This will hit hard for anyone who has witnessed assault, harassment, or bullying, but it will likely wreck anyone who has been a victim of something like this themselves. Ultimately, if you don’t think that you will be able to handle this movie emotionally, you probably won’t — it feels that brutally honest.
All of the actors do a phenomenal job in their roles. Rhianne Barreto gives a star-making turn in her leading role. It seems like she was completely absorbed in the role, every emotional beat being hit perfectly and impactfully. Her facial expressions are particularly powerful, as there are some scenes in which she is able to communicate so much emotion with nothing more than her eyes.
The supporting cast is wonderful too. Poorna Jagannathan and J.C. MacKenzie give amazing turns as the protagonist’s parents. Each of them has a handful of moments in which they are able to shine, whether an impactful monologue or a meaningful interaction with Barreto’s protagonist. Charlie Plummer, who plays one of the protagonist’s classmates, is also quite well-cast, giving a subtle but emotional performance.
Subtlety is also the key in Bianco’s execution, with much of the film’s style feeling appropriately subdued. The cinematography is static and the score is minimal, creating a sense of melancholy that drives the tone of the movie as a whole. The lack of flashiness in Bianco’s style fits perfectly to this film, as it allows the emotion of the script and the performances to speak for themselves, rather than artificially eliciting these feelings from the audience.
Share is an impressive debut feature from Pippa Bianco. This movie is done in a way that heightens realism, from the character development to the visual style, so even though it is by no means an easy watch, it is nonetheless something that needs to be seen, in particular by younger audiences in this era when online culture is becoming more and more toxic.
Share debuts on HBO on July 2017 at 10pm ET/PT.