A Standard Romance Let Down By A Questionable Late Plot Development
When it comes to teen romances, Netflix has always been a bit of a mixed bag. After a combination of misfires and surprisingly good films in this category, Sierra Burgess Is A Loser is the latest in a long line of teen romances to try and stake its claim in this crowded genre. Although the film manages to conjure a few surprisingly effective dramatic moments and a realistic depiction of texting’s role in romance, a questionable plot development late on ruins what’s otherwise a pretty average but enjoyable film.
At the heart of this teen romance sits Sierra (Shannon Purser) a high school girl who’s unpopular and shunned by many of her fellow students. All this changes when popular cheerleader Veronica (Kristine Froseth) pulls a prank on Jamey (Noah Centineo) after he asks her out by giving him Sierra’s number instead of her own. Deciding to play along, Sierra unwittingly finds herself falling for Jamey and turns to Veronica for help when things start to get serious. The film dances between these three characters for much of its runtime as Sierra frets about when the best time is to tell Jamey it’s really her, not Veronica, he’s been speaking to. All of this builds toward the inevitable ending complete with a neat Hollywood shaped bow but somehow stumbles at the last hurdle, throwing in one of the worst character developments seen in a film like this for quite some time.
Without giving too much away, the first 70 minutes or so of this film are perfectly fine as a standard teen romance. The plot is peppered with enough charm and the usual teen tropes you’d expect from this genre to keep the story chugging along at a comfortable pace. A bizarre twist late on featuring Sierra and Veronica not only offsets the tonal balance of the film, it actually damages both main characters pretty dramatically, leaving a bittersweet taste in the mouth when the final credits do roll. Out of all the bizarre plot developments in different films over the years, the one featured here is certainly up there with the worst. It’s particularly disappointing too as up until this point, Sierra Burgess Is A Loser is pretty enjoyable.
Despite its run of the mill storyline, Sierra Burgess Is A Loser does a very good job accurately depicting the modern day difficulties with social media. From deciding what to write through to frantically scooping up the mobile to read a message from someone, the film nails every aspect of communicating with a member of the opposite sex over text message. The altering viewpoints between Sierra and Jamey during these moments is a really nice touch too and one that certainly helps us to empathise with both characters.
Sierra Burgess Is A Loser doesn’t necessarily do anything particularly original or daring with its plot, nor does it feature anything beyond its mediocre acting. What the film lacks in originality, it makes up for with its charm and realistically depicted nod toward technological difficulties with relationships nowadays. These socially awkward moments involving a phone screen are among the highlights in the film and really paint a picture of just how digitalised our lives have now become. A frustrating plot development late on and an inability to stand out from the slew of other films in this genre hold Sierra Burgess back but as a by-the-numbers teen romance, the film is simply okay and nestles itself comfortably in the mediocrity it carves out for itself.