Release Date: TBD
Director: Shane Ryan
MPAA Rating: NR
Film Pulse Score: 5/10
Any amount of research on Shane Ryan’s My Name is A by Anonymous will be sure to reveal keywords such as disturbing, hard to watch, or depressing, and this review will be no different. The subject matter is incredibly disturbing and it’s a very tough movie to sit through, however, for the most part the film is artfully made, and succeeds in what it sets out to do- that is to make the viewer feel dirty and lose all faith in humanity.
The film is broken up into three chapters and shifts back and forth between three main groups of characters. First there’s Alyssa (Katie Marsh) and her sidekick (Demi Baumann), two adolescent girls with a penchant for cussing each other out, tormenting Alyssa’s younger brother, and self-mutilation. Then there’s a character known as The Angst, played by Alex Damiano, who is a bulimic as well as a self mutilator who is also sexually abused by her father. As an added bonus, The Angst also stores her own vomit in jars. Finally there’s The Performer, played by Teona Dolnikova, who is a beautiful singer that also may be abused by her father.
All three groups of characters are separate for the majority of the film, however they band together in the final chapter in order to brutally murder a young girl. The reasoning behind this murder is never clear, and feels as senseless and horrific as I’m sure the real life tragedy this is based on was.
Interestingly, the real murder was perpetrated by only one individual, which leads me to surmise that the four characters in the film are the personification of the real murderer’s different traits. This could just be me reading too much into it, but the film lends itself to interpretation which is always a good thing.
On the visual side, My Name is A by Anonymous mixes in just about every art house indie trope you can think of to varying degrees of success. Some of the framing choices and artistic flourishes look great, like something straight out of a Harmony Korine film, and others feel amateurish and cheap. This leaves the film with an inconsistent tone, however any time there would be an eye rolling moment, it would quickly cut to a scene that made up for it by showing something that felt technically proficient and fully realized.
Several scenes also felt overly long, with a full on music video injected into the film at one point featuring The Performer. While the song was beautiful, it seemed completely unnecessary to play the entire thing, however it does prove to be a nice palette cleanser for all the disturbing imagery that occurred just moments before. Another scene involving a slide show of pictures from Alyssa and The Sidekick also felt unnecessary and cheap, with generic hard rock music playing in the background, which was a shame because much of the score is actually quite good.
My Name is A by Anonymous is a film that explores some very dark, and very real subject matter. The backlash surrounding this film is understandable, and it probably wasn’t a good idea to base this around an actual real life event, but it never appeared to me that the director was trying to glamorize or exploit the story in any way. It’s a hard film to endure, and it’s an even harder film to endorse. Movies like this aren’t meant to be entertaining or fun. It’s designed to get under your skin, ruffle your feathers, and remind you that there is darkness in the world.