Directed By: Henry Joost & Ariel (Rel) Schulman
Produced By: Andrew Jarecki, Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman, Marc Smerling
Cast: Nev Schulman, Rel Schulman, Megan Faccio
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 94 minutes
Release Date: September 17, 2010
Review Date: September 17, 2010
You can’t just give away too much on this documentary as the twists and turns make this film what it is: eye-opening and amazing. I sat in the theatre with my mouth open in disbelief for at least half of it, and I want you to have the same reactions. What I will tell you:
Abby, an eight-year-old, finds a photo by Nev Schulman in her town’s paper. She’s so moved by it that she paints a replica and sends it to Nev, in New York City. Nev works in a space with two aspiring filmmakers, Ariel (Rel) Schulman (his brother) and Henry Joost. Joost and Rel decide to film Nev’s interactions with this extremely talented little girl.
Through multiple correspondences of paintings and photos, Nev begins to know each of Abby’s family members. He has a deep connection to Abby’s older sister Megan. Nev and Megan begin a pseudo-relationship on Gchat, Facebook and the phone. Nev starts friending all of Megan’s friends and forming relationships with them, as well. Watching their relationship grow is quite humorous as everyone can relate to the awkwardness of “the first phone call.” And when Nev recounts some of their juicier text messages, you just can’t keep a straight face.
When Nev, Rel and Henry head out to Vail to film a dance festival, the guy’s decide to surprise Abby and her family with an impromptu visit once the film fest wraps. What happens next is sure to keep you in disbelief throughout the whole meeting.
The documentary makes you seriously reconsider what you put online. I immediately went home and de-friended over 300 “friends” on Facebook as I was severely disturbed and freaked out. The film also brings to light the fact that we all seemingly accept things at face value, despite never seeing a face.
Okay, that’s it. No more. The reason this film works and is so great is because nothing is known about it before going in. So watch the trailer, get confused, and then go see it.
Hanna Soltys is a green tea drinker and film critic living in Chicago.