HBO TV movie “Share”, which was bought by HBO shortly after it was shown at Sundance Film Festival early in this year, is a restrained but undeniably harrowing drama about one adolescent girl whose normal life is suddenly turned upside down by a humiliating incident and its following ramifications beyond her control. As firmly sticking to her conflicted state of mind from the beginning to the end, the movie gives us a number of emotionally resonant moments to remember, and you may reflect a lot on its timely social subjects when it is over.
At the beginning, the movie opens with its 16-year-old heroine’s very confused status during one early morning. When she wakes up, Mandy (Rhianne Barreto) finds herself lying down on the front lawn of her family house, and she does not remember anything about what happened during last night except that she drank quite a lot at an evening party she attended along with her several schoolmates including her boyfriend A.J. (Nicholas Galitzine) While her mind is still suffering from hangover, she manages to go back to her room before being noticed by her parents, and she goes to her high school several hours later without saying anything to her parents.
At the school, things seem fine on the surface as she goes through daily activities along with her close friends including Jenna (Lovie Simone), but she receives text messages from her close friends not long after she returns to her family home. They send her a certain video clip being shared among many students, and that video clip clearly shows that she was taken advantage of by A.J. and some other male students while she was drunk and unconscious during that night in question.
Understandably shocked and confused, Mandy tries to look all right to others around her, but, of course, everyone around her including her parents comes to know about that terrible video clip, and we see how the situation slowly gets worse for her. While there is a painful moment when her parents try to talk to her about what happened during that night, there later comes a brief but pointed moment when she senses how much she is unwelcomed at her school, and then there is another hurtful moment for her when her incident comes to draw the unwanted attention of the local media.
As suggested by her parents, Mandy goes to a therapist for remembering what exactly happened to her during that night, but there is not much progress probably because of the defense mechanism of her mind, and she only finds herself more confused and frustrated than before – especially after she becomes isolated further from her school and friends. While Jenna and her other close friends remain sympathetic to her plight, they all become distant to her gradually once she stops going to her school, and she surely feels hurts when she happens to see one of her close friends hanging around with A.J. and Dylan (Charlie Plummer), who is one of those boys possibly associated with her incident but genuinely seems to feel sorry about what happened to her.
Dylan later approaches to Mandy, and it looks like this shy, introverted kid can be the one she can lean on, but it soon becomes apparent that he does not tell everything to her. Sure, he is the one who took her away from the party after she managed to wake up shortly after the incident, but he seems to be very conflicted over something he is very reluctant to tell her.
Meanwhile, the circumstance becomes more frustrating and exasperating for Mandy and her parents. As her incident draws more public attention, the police investigation soon follows, but then she and her parents are only told later that the District Attorney decides to drop the case as there is not any strong evidence for prosecuting whoever is directly responsible for her incident. When they subsequently go to a civil rights lawyer for counsel, the lawyer warns in advance that their quest for justice may be quite longer and harder than they expected, and that advice certainly puts more burden on Mandy’s mind.
Never resorting to any unnecessary sensationalism or cheap melodrama, the movie, which is based on director/writer Pippa Bainco’s acclaimed 2015 short film (It won the Cinéfondation Award when it was shown at the Cannes Film Festival), steadily focuses on whatever is churning behind Mandy’s seemingly detached façade, and Rhianne Barreto is excellent in her unadorned nuanced performance which deservedly won the US Dramatic Special Jury Award at the Sundance Film Festival (The movie also received the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award, by the way). As deftly conveying to us her character’s inner struggle without any exaggeration, Barreto ably holds the center of the film, and the result is more than enough to show that she is another noteworthy new talent of this year.
Barreto is also supported well by a number of good supporting performers. While Poorna Jagannathan and J. C. Mackenzie are suitably cast as Mandy’s concerned parents, several young performers including Lovie Simone and Nicholas Galitzine are convincing in their respective roles, and Charlie Plummer, who has been more notable since his breakout turns in “All the Money in the World” (2017) and “Lean on Pete” (2017), deserves to be praised for another fine performance in his steadily advancing acting career.
Although it stumbles a bit during its last act, “Share” is worthwhile to watch for not only its sensitive and thoughtful storytelling but also the admirable acting from its main cast members, and Bianco demonstrates here that she is a talented filmmaker to watch. In short, this is surely a solid feature film debut, and it will be interesting to see the next step of her promising filmmaking career.