Directed by: #FernandoLebrija
#RealityHigh Netflix Movie Review
An ambitious but bashful high school student accidentally finds herself part of the popular cliché, becoming enamoured with the seemingly idyllic illusion of an Instagram-centric lifestyle, only to find herself neglecting her real friends. This digitised Mean Girls wannabe emphasises the toxicity and damage that social media culture can bring about, assembling another dimension to the film about the dangers of an unhealthy focus to foster an online persona favourable to the wider public. Although this theme runs throughout the movie, the depth needed to execute this topic successfully wasn't there. It's difficult to relate to beautiful and wealthy high school students driving around in sports cars, the backdrop of vanity and selfie-obsessed extravagance felt cheesy and over the top for this subject matter. Not every coming-of-age movie about social media culture requires the raw realism and execution seen in Bo Burnham's Eighth Grade, but it does require robust dialogue and a plausible sense of direction.
It was disappointing to see the prevalence of ableism in this Netflix teen movie, just like that of Sierra Burgess Is a Loser. During a cafeteria scene, the vapid antagonist pretends that her handbag-dog is an emotional support dog, attempting to humiliate the school principal by asking if he has a problem with dogs, disabled people or both. He replies:
"I love dogs and disabled people".
A boisterous and disruptive student calls out in response:
"That explains your wife!"
It has grown tiresome and frustrating to continuously observe ableist material in Netflix productions and to recognise the same cheap dialogue which stigmatises disabled people and invalidates service dogs as a means for independence. The constant presence of ableist content rings alarm bells, especially due to the magnitude of Netflix's platform and potential influence among viewers who may interpret that these comments are funny and appropriate in this day and age.
Despite the flaws within this movie, the cast provides solid performances, with Nesta Cooper's charming portrayal as the protagonist shining through. It was a delight to see television and film veteran Kate Walsh (Grey's Anatomy, 13 Reasons Why, The Perks of Being a Wallflower) on the screen. Her short-lived but quirky performance saved #RealityHigh, tempting audiences to keep watching in the hope of scenes sprinkled with Walsh's magic.
Although this film should be entirely dismissed based on its cringe-worthy title, #RealityHigh is an unexpectedly enjoyable Sunday afternoon watch.