Like, Share, Self Destruct
The App is the latest Italian Netflix film that blends elements of Black Swan and Black Mirror together with a cautionary, destructive tale of one man’s pursuit of danger and excitement. On the one hand, the film works quite well to showcase this, with some cleverly placed religious connotations and ideas, accentuating the heavily-leaning theme around sin. Unfortunately in barreling along with this single-focus, the film loses some depth with its characters and worse, leaves some unresolved questions and plot holes at the end.
The story revolves around Nick, an idealistic young man with everything he could ever dream of. When he heads off to shoot a film in Italy, his girlfriend Eva signs him up to a dating app for a dissertation experiment for her. With an algorithm that changes and advances depending on each individual user, Nick is reluctant at first but soon finds the app taking control of his life thanks to a mysterious user he connects with named Maria. His conversations with her soon turn from hopeful and invigorating to something far more darker and sinister as the film wears on.
As The App reaches its final act, the drama reaches its climax with a surprise twist that’s foreshadowed right the way back to the opening conversation of the film, before jumping forward 6 months and rushing toward a resolution that leaves some pretty big questions hanging in the balance that are never really answered. These plot inconsistencies stem from the big reveal at the end that throw up more questions than answers. Especially given Eva’s alleged extensive research into this. I won’t spoil anything here of course but suffice to say it doesn’t work as well as it perhaps should.
Thematically, the film does well to really reinforce the danger of social media and addiction to technology. Seeing Nick distracted midway through a child’s birthday or leaving his family to take another call is something that’s been done before but Nick’s rapid decline is done in such a way that it still makes for some powerful viewing. The themes do work really well and given the biblical references throughout, it may come as no surprise that there’s even a snake that shows up late on.
The App isn’t a bad film per-se but it’s not a particularly memorable or outstanding one either. I still enjoyed watching this and would definitely recommend it if you’re a fan of thematically sound films but there’s a few issues that are hard to overlook. The final few scenes feel really rushed and in terms of rounding out character arcs, The App doesn’t do a great job wrapping this one up.
Still, despite my gripes The App is a topical and relevant film for our time, with a profound message about the danger of social media and not trusting everything you read or see. It’s not perfect, and there are better films that showcase this message, but The App makes for a solid watch nonetheless.