Review: “Sierra Burgess is a Loser” misses the target

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Molly Atchison | Editor-in-Chief

The new Netflix movie “Sierra Burgess is a Loser” is the latest in a wave of teen feel-good rom coms. Sadly, the film, though aesthetically pleasing, did not live up to expectations. The script was mediocre and although the concept of the movie was solid, it had several plot lines did not develop enough by the movie’s end.

New teen heartthrob Noah Centineo was supposed to thrill with his character Jayme, but unfortunately, Jayme came off as a three-dimensional character strangled by two-dimensional writing. His depth and positive qualities were deeply overshadowed by a lack of interesting dialogue (four hours spent on the phone, and yet all the questions they asked each other seemed to be along the lines of “what’s your favorite animal?”). The representation of the deaf community through Jayme’s little brother was sincerely applauded, but seemed more like a ploy to make Jayme more desirable than an in-depth look at what it’s like to be the brother of a child who is deaf. Jayme, who could have been a unique and dynamic character, and Centineo, who is a decent enough actor, were let down by poor writing and a lack character expansion.

Although Sierra Burgess, played by the ever-so-lovable Shannon Purser, was created far more intricately than her male counterpart, there were still multiple issues with her character. Let’s start with the plot itself — catfishing is not a romantic concept. There’s an entire TV show about the ramifications of and emotional turmoil surrounding catfishing, and few people who are catfished in real life want to date the person who deceived them. Not only was Jayme far too OK with Sierra’s actions, he seemed to practically endorse the way she treated him. Lying is not a great foundation for a relationship of any kind, and there seems to be discontinuity between Sierra’s actions and the results.

What may confound many viewers is how Sierra, who acts so sure of herself and confident, manages to isolate herself from a true friend in order to help an enemy, and to trick a boy into liking her. Yes, its high school, but why would someone who refuses to conform to social norms and seems proud of her uniqueness choose to act in such a way? Taking a character like Burgess and using her to create drama completely changes the dynamic and power of her identity. Let the cool chick be a cool chick, don’t turn her into a basic high school drama queen.

There are several reasons to praise this movie, despite all of the issues. The filming was creative and aesthetically pleasing — pastel tones and warm lighting made even the most awkward scenes appealing to watch. Similarly, the soundtrack was excellent, with Shannon Purser actually contributing to the musical array with her version of the song “Sunflower”. Perhaps the most interesting character was the “mean girl” Veronica, played by Kristine Froseth. Her character was an excellent display of a person holding themselves together in the midst of a tumultuous home life and what that does to a person’s social life. Unfortunately, like all of the characters in the movie, her story was sadly underdeveloped.

Out of all of the new Netflix movies available to watch, “Sierra Burgess is a Loser” was by far the most disappointing. Not only was it a twisted and confusing story, but the characters and the writing were unsatisfactory and incomplete. Good actors were stuck with bad scripts, and the one hour and thirty minutes of screen time left much to be desired.