“Boy meets girl and they fall in love,” is an age old formula, milked to its zenith. But it still works, and there is a reason.
This fall Netflix launched a string of original rom-coms (many featuring Noah Centineo, more on him later). Sierra Burgess is a Loser is also a part of the lineup, which started streaming on Netflix, earlier this month.
It revolves around the same boy meets girl story with a digital twist. Or rather, digital cat-fishing twist.
The Affable Loser
The movie starts with Sierra Burgess played by Shannon Purser, she has fiercely supportive parents, an amazing best friend and a ton of positivity. We know Purser from her role in Netflix’s Stranger Things, before this.
She is a straight-A’s student with plans to go to an Ivy league university. She tutors other student in her free-time and is not afraid to give it back to her bullies.
But like any other teenager, she has her insecurities which sometimes stem from body-image issues and at other times due to her brilliant parents. A conversation with the school guidance counsellor leaves her wondering “Who is Sierra Burgess”?
She is the quintessential good-girl who is loveable and relatable but the story takes an ugly turn which does not suit Sierra’s personality, or any decent human being’s for that matter.
Endearing Depiction of Body-Image Issues
Sierra confronting her parents on what it is like to be a teenager who does not have the body-type that’s acceptable and pleasing, is extremely raw and moving. Her insecurity and the journey to discover herself keeps you involved.
Purser gets the act perfect. The positive reinforcement of being a good human rather than just being one of the surface is the saving grace of the movie.
For someone who has gone through the same turmoil and worse, it evokes a lot of repressed emotions and makes you think and ultimately makes you aspire for betterment.
The school cheerleader (cliche-much?) Veronica, misses no opportunity to mock Sierra, who is definitely much smarter than her but doesn't have the looks.
At one point she goes on to say, “looking at you, make me want to gouge my eyes out”. Mean!
But Sierra does not really let it get to her. A not-so-innocent prank by Veronica, sets the ball rolling for a nice-fuzzy romance with a steady dose of teenage romance cliches.
You can’t hate Veronica for long though, because once you see the circumstances in which she lives in, you kind of get where the bitterness stems from.
This Is Us star, Chrissy Metz makes a compelling cameo as the obsessed mother who is still dealing with marital trauma in this film.
Noah Centineo: US Ka Radhika Apte
Noah Centineo, the global heartthrob and the Netflix rom-com staple, makes his comeback as Jamey. He simply rehashes his previous performances as the extremely good-looking jock who is pure at heart and is the perfect boyfriend material for girls everywhere. Noah Centineo who is better known as ‘Peter Kavinsky’, owing to the success of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, is the ‘omnipresent Radhika Apte’ of US Netflix originals.
He is dreamy, affable and almost perfect. Probably prefect beyond reason.
The only flaw in all of it being falling for the perfect girl, by perfect here I mean, slim, good-looking and a cheerleader.
There is not much he has to do, his dimples and the six-pack abs do most of the acting. Even though it works for him like a dream, but in the long run he needs to break out of the football jock mould.
What’s the Story About?
Sierra’s bully gives her number to a random boy (Jamey) at a cafe, he texts her, she likes him and starts cat-fishing , without really knowing who he is. Her best-friend Dan, very convincingly portrayed by RJ Cyler, points it out to her which she conveniently ignores.
A shirtless picture of Jamey prompts her to involve her bully in her quest to keep Jamey around.
Sierra gets to know that Veronica wants to be “smarter” in order to get back together with her college-going boyfriend. She has hit jackpot.
Sierra starts tutoring Veronica and that’s when the bully to BFF transition happens.
With Veronica in tow, she sends the both of them on a date, and then a weird moment forces you to think that Jamey has really bad peripheral vision for a sportsman.
Reminiscent of Mujhse Dosti Karoge
The conundrum reminded me of the 2003 YRF dud, Mujhse Dosti Karoge, where a “not-so-pretty” Rani Mukherjee poses as the diva Kareena Kapoor, to get an online relationship with her childhood crush Hrithik Roshan going and ultimately sets the two up.
An Ugly Turn
Veronica takes Sierra to a party, where some typical high school stuff happens. Sierra witnesses something that she shouldn’t have and that’s when the story turns ugly.
As any fluffy American rom-com, there has to be a prom and that’s where we get to know who will be happily ever after.
The Final Verdict
The story of Sierra Burgess Is a Loser is not new, the acting is not ground-breaking but some moments are relatable and move you emotionally. All the title characters fit in their respective roles. The film tries to win hearts and grip it’s viewers but sometimes feels a little all over the place.
A tighter storyline and direction could have taken the story to the next level.
If you are looking to watch something just for fun and do not mind a stereotypical, fluffy rom-com, you can go for Sierra Burgess Is a Loser. If you are expecting something timeless or classy, you will be somewhat disappointed.
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