Don’t let Like Me’s scant 80 minutes fool you, as this hypnotic and often times mind-bending thriller has a ton of meat to the bone. Though this movie is an acquired taste, Addison Timlin’s inspired performance and filmmaker Robert Mockler’s intriguing storytelling style, is worth the gamble.
The immediate takeaway is Kiya (Addison Timlin), after intimidating a convenience store clerk during a holdup, is not exactly lovable. What looks like a crime ends up a mean spirited prank done for viral purposes; Kiya is a social media addict whose life is fueled by the “likes’ and views she receives from her videos.
Existing in a meme/gif and video driven universe leads to a warped perception of reality, and though Kiya should be credited for her downright moxie, her violent actions are downright unforgivable. Whether it’s stuffing a homeless man’s stomach with pancakes over a seemingly generous offer or seducing a sleazy motel owner (Larry Fessenden), Kiya feels she is the master of her domain, thus driving up her online cred in the process.
Her only irritant is Burt (Ian Nelson), an online troll who believes these videos are ultimately empty of intent or meaning. Though Kiya is a tormenter, she also has an online bully with Burt (whether or not we should feel sympathy for Kiya is something Mockler thankfully leaves up for the taking).
The visual dizziness of Like Me is the ultimate selling point of the feature, as there are various images that may continue to stick in your mind. Since cinema is all about the movie image (especially if you’re a devotee of Alfred Hitchcock or Brian De Palma), one can’t fault Mockler for seemingly making narrative filled with eye candy.
Addison Timlin, whose subtle work in Little Sister powered that story, also does a fine job with a much more “out there” role. Actually finding sympathy for a sociopath who may be headed for destruction is a tricky thing, and though she’s enacting most of the story’s violent moments, Timlin’s innate charisma is on full display (De Niro’s work as Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver comes to mind).
A huge chunk of the story centers on Kiya’s unlikely bond with the motel owner (Fessenden). Though he’s her captive and will soon be punished for his lascivious behavior, fear doesn’t enter the picture. Instead, the two outsiders form a temporary, unspoken truce, the understanding that, at least in this world, normalcy will never be part of their equation.
The narrative’s final moments, a perverse calm before the impending storm, is sequence that pushes back all of the adrenalized, hallucinatory sections that came before. Some may see the denouement as pretentious, and maybe they might deem Like Me as experimental cinema conducted by a bunch of hipsters. I was mesmerized by Like Me from the get go, and even though the subject matter is often hard to stomach, my 80 minutes was wisely invested.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Like Me is now playing in select theaters via Kino Lorber.