This is not your typical Saturday-night movie. In fact, after just finishing watching The Dirties about fifteen minutes ago, I'm still feeling quite detached and empty. That's how this film made me feel. But that's a good thing. It means that this movie is incredibly well written and directed. To leave a viewer feeling as I do now - perturbed - is something to marvel at. This is a powerful film which shines a harsh, unforgiving light upon bullying. It reveals all: the act itself, the victims, and the consequences. The two movie-makers and best of friends, Owen and Matt, go from laughing and joking together to being diametrically opposed in their attitudes and social statuses. This is, of course, with the aid of bullying as an accelerant: because that is exactly what bullying is. This is seen in the film, as well as in schools worldwide. Situations which could otherwise be avoided or lessened in severity are made irrevocably worse as a result of bullying; this is one of the film's key themes. It is made clear from the outset that both characters have been bullied all-throughout their lives. However, things soon change. For Owen, things improve: he becomes more confident, the girl he has had a crush on for years has finally begun reciprocating, and his life in general seems to take a turn for the better - high school gets a little less scary for Owen. On the other hand, Matt ends up at the other end of the spectrum. In his efforts to aid his friend to get the girl he'd swooned over for so long, his own social status does not improve. If anything, Matt becomes even more isolated and frustrated than ever before, which leads to the definitive moment in the film - the psychopath scene. In this scene, Matt is finally able to do what Owen has been pleading for him to do: he separates his film from his life as he genuinely struggles to comprehend what is going on in his mind. He makes a cry for help: "Owen, I think I may be a psychopath" (*paraphrased*), yet his cries are misheard by Owen who has moved beyond the realm of being able to help his once-best-friend, and is now the quintessential society member whom of which this film specifically criticises. Owen becomes just another figure in the daunting hallways of their high school: eyes glued to his phone, his mind elsewhere, popularity and bettering himself being all that he can prioritise. He loses sight of Matt and is unable to see him as a friend in distress. This is what is so tragic about the film. It ends up being Owen, Matt's best friend, who drives Matt to doing the things he does because at the one point which truly mattered, when Matt needed Owen more than ever before, Owen wasn't there for him. And when Matt explodes in fury at his friend not recognising his desperate need for help, it only pushes Owen away even further and makes the viewers feel even more helpless. The final line is utter perfection: "Owen? What are you doing?! It's me!" As Owen stands in horror in the corner, fearing for his own life at the sight of what his friend has become, Matt doesn't understand what changed and why Owen can't see him for what he is. This is where the movie got me. This is where it screamed its loudest. For, as the viewers, we are able to see that the true victim here is Matt. And that is a very morally-challenging concept to wrap your head around. The victim, at least in the movie, is the one holding the gun and not the one lying on the floor. You are left feeling aghast at the thought that the person who committed the massacre was in fact the one in need of the most help. This film leaves you with a burning question to ask yourself: are school-shootings portrayed by the media (or by society in general) in the entirely opposite way that they should be? All in all, this is a very powerful and tragic film which successfully tells a compelling story whilst also spreading a message fundamental to the development of society. It forces you to ask questions which make you uncomfortable when you explore the answers, and emphasises the importance of reaching out and helping those who are at their most vulnerable. Films like this one are some of the best you can watch; they don't come along very often, but when they do you ought not to miss them.
Comedy / Crime / Drama
Comedy / Crime / Drama
Two best friends are filming a comedy about getting revenge on the bullies at their high school. One of them isn't joking.
February 12, 2021