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Review

'A Girl Like Her' adds twist on bullying, but story stumbles

Amy S. Weber takes found-footage tack on tale of teen bullying in 'A Girl Like Her,' but story two-dimensional

The line between nonfiction and narrative is often blurred, and in "A Girl Like Her," Amy S. Weber explores how traditional documentary storytelling techniques can be used to tell a familiar but fictional tale.

Using a mix of found footage and more traditional documentary style complete with intertitles, chyrons and an off-screen director interacting with the film's characters, "A Girl Like Her" tells the well-worn story of teenage bullying and suicide. Jessica (Lexi Ainsworth) is bullied mercilessly by former friend and mean girl Avery (Hunter King), leading to Jessica's eventual suicide attempt.

While she is in the hospital in a coma, her family, school administrators and friends attempt to figure out why. Flashbacks seen through footage taken by her best friend ,Brian (Jimmy Bennett), paint Jessica as a sweet but naive girl, and Brian outfits her with a necklace surveillance camera to capture footage of the bullying. This is countered with Avery's video diaries, as the "director" has asked her to provide her own "popular girl" perspective.

The narrative momentum quickly stalls out, as the story adds little to dynamics of high school bullying. The characters are two-dimensional at best, with dubious and paper-thin motivations. Even the new angle of showing the bully's struggle (Avery's family problems at home) seems hackneyed.

Subtlety is not the film's strong suit either, because points are hammered home rather than implied. Although the storytelling technique may feel innovative, the story itself is not.

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"A Girl Like Her"

MPAA rating: PG-13

Running time: 1 hour, 32 minutes

Playing: Arclight Hollywood; AMC Universal Citywalk Stadium 19.

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