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SXSW review: Selfie wants your clicks, but laughs at us all

A darkly, humorous look into how social media shapes us

Selfie Movie

Source: WTFilms (Image credit: WTFilms)

While this year's SXSW was cancelled due to COVID-19, we still had a chance to screen some of the films for the festival. Keep your eyes peeled for more news on these titles in the future!

If you've ever wondered what it would be like if someone caricaturized humanity's weird obsession with social media, Selfie is what it would look like. The French anthology film was directed by Marc Fitoussi, Cyril Gelblat, Vianney Lebasque, Thomas Bidegain, and Tristan Aurouet and illustrates five separate darkly hilarious looks at human nature in the age of social media.

The first story is an exaggerated look at just what kind of monsters the internet can make us.

We start with the story of the Perez family. Their youngest son Lucas (Tomas Cotinière) is terminally ill. In the beginning, his mother and father documented his journey as a coping mechanism for their family. But everything changes when Lucas makes a miraculous recovery and the clicks stop coming in. Gone are the free gaming consoles, the invites to premieres, and all of the comforts all the family members who weren't dying at the time had come to enjoy. Strangely Lucas, or "Lulu," doesn't find himself appalled by his family's behavior. The whole thing is an exaggerated look at just what kind of monsters the internet can make us.

The Perez family's story is quite the contrast from the likes of Bettina (Elsa Zylberstein), an English teacher with a quick tongue and quite a bit of disdain for the idea of an online curriculum. That quick wit, however, is saved exclusively for online trolling. Meanwhile there's Florian Delamare (Finnegan Oldfield), a young man looking for love in literally all the wrong places; Romain (Manu Payet) who finds himself haunted by "the algorithm" and the erectile dysfunction he believes it's brought him; and, finally, Emma (Fanny Sidney) and Fabrice (Sébastien Chassagne) who find themselves torn by questions they dare not ask, and an online leak that has the potential to change it all.

Like any good anthology, each of these stories manage to be very different while still sharing a clear through line. Each one wittily takes a crack at our dependence on clicks, as well as how brave — and often stupid — anonymity can make us. There's no hand holding through the stories. They're all here to help the viewer come to the realization that there's a little bit of all of us in these caricatures, and they're here to do it by making us laugh at ourselves by way of sheer ridiculousness.

Each one wittily takes a crack at our dependence on clicks, as well as how brave — and often stupid — anonymity can make us.

Selfie is most clever in its relatability. We've all felt like the NSA is listening to us due to how uncanny targeted ads can be, and sometimes it's impossible not to think about what secrets our significant other might be hiding from their past. Each chapter connects with the viewer through the farfetched. Reductio ad absurdum might be an annoying debate tactic, but it's certainly a fun storytelling mechanism.

The humor hits especially hard while most of us are collectively trapped in our houses. It's elevated by the strong performances of the whole ensemble and a surprising amount of fun set pieces despite the focus of the film being "influencer commentary." We head from remote islands to burning churches (not at all what you think, I swear), and we laugh our way from destination to destination.