Directed by: #IvoVanAart
Written by: #DaanWindhorst
Columnist and author Femke is flooded with anonymous nasty messages and death threats on social media. One day she has enough and decides to take revenge.
Ivo van Aart’s dramatic thriller is an interesting look at social media, how toxic it can be, and how harmful. The internet is an open world of connectivity; that can be a good and a bad thing. While it’s incredibly useful to keep up with news from around the world, as well as friends and close-ones, it can be an easy way for haters to get to you. Words can be nothing, but they can also be harmful. There’s always the option to simply shut off and not read comments, tweets, private messages; but some are so swept up in the craze of social media that it can become addicting — far too hard to resist clicking and scrolling to find more and more things that can cripple your mood and strip away at your happiness. In The Columnist, Femke (Katja Herbers) experiences all of this, continues to indulge in it and thus, finds herself taking action.
Although Femke is a target of online harassment, she’s also not the easiest of character’s to connect with. She comes across as very tough-shelled, hard to crack. She’s actually on the thin line of likeable and unlikeable. Some of her actions are reasonable, others completely unjust. This is of course, a fictional piece weaved within a very real and serious issue, so while it is relatable, it’s also an exploration of “what if?” and in that sense, the film gets to become more experimental with its genre. Herbers’ performance is quite brilliant given the role she gets to play with. There’s plenty of broodiness, sharp-eyed stares and the feeling of hatred underneath a fake smile. Her evolution to becoming a vengeful spirit is entertaining whilst far-fetched, so her part is really the most investing of the film.
The Columnist is a regretfully enjoyable watch, even with its killer edge and totally crazy story. It does lack some better-written supporting characters, as like mentioned before, Femke really is the only noticeable force. One character spends most of the film telling her not to read comments, and then ends up showing her comments, which was strange. It follows the typical routes of any thriller, and Femke seems to get her way pretty easily without much oppression, but it doesn’t detract too much from the entertainment value. It would have been nice to see more of a resolution to the idea of online abuse, in fact to place a little more focus on that, but I suppose The Columnist is more set on being a revenge story than a think-piece; though this might make some people think before they spread hate… Sheeeesh.
Running at just over one hour and twenty minutes, Ivo van Aart’s snappy genre-bending style draws you in fast, but beyond Herbers’ performance, there’s really not much else to savour.
On Digital Platforms March 12th.