For the past three weeks, Lisa Marie has been in the process of reviewing 56 back to school films! She’s promised the rest of the TSL staff that this project will finally wrap up by the end of today, so that she can devote her time to helping to prepare the site for its annual October horrorthon! Will she make it or will she fail, lose her administrator privileges, and end up writing listicles for Buzzfeed? Keep reading the site to find out!)
Recently, I came across someone on twitter wondering if Emma Roberts is ever actually going to play an adult role. Personally, I think the question is a bit unfair (just because you’re playing a teenager, that doesn’t mean that you’re not dealing with “adult” issues) but I understand the logic behind it. Emma Roberts is a Hollywood veteran who made her film debut 15 years ago. She’s currently 25 years old but, more often that not, she’s still cast as a high school student. (At the most, she might occasionally get to be a college student.) Going solely by her film and television roles, Emma Roberts has been a high school student for 12 years now.
But you know what?
I say more power to Emma Roberts. Being a teenager is a lot more fun than being an adult and she should stay in high school for as long as she can pull it off!
Anyway, this year’s Emma-Roberts-In-High-School film was a thriller called Nerve. Actually, very little of the film takes place in high school though a running theme through the film is the desire of a senior named Vee (short for Venus and played by Roberts) to attend the California Institute of the Arts after she graduates. Unfortunately, it costs money to go to a good school and Vee’s mother (Juliette Lewis) doesn’t have any. As well, both Vee and her mother are still struggling to accept the recent death of Vee’s brother.
However, there may be a way for Vee to raise the money. Vee learns that her friend, Sydney (Emily Meade), has become an online star by playing Nerve. Nerve is a game where you can either volunteer to be a player or you can pay to be a viewer. (There’s a third role that you can play in Nerve but it’s not a good role and we don’t learn about it until later in the film.) The watchers dare the players to do something. If the players do it, they win money. If the players fail … well, there are consequences for everything.
Though initially reluctant, Vee agrees to be a player. At first, it’s a lot of fun. The normally cautious Vee gets to experience the exhilaration of taking a risk. She even meets another Nerve player, Ian (Dave Franco) and soon the two of them are a team, partners and perhaps something more. But, as the game progresses, the dares become more dangerous and the stakes get higher. And, of course, Ian has a secret of his own..
The great thing about Nerve is that it tells a story about what’s is pretty much happening right now. It’s easy to imagine a real-life version of Nerve going on right now. As I watched Vee and Ian play Nerve, I was actually reminded of how much fun twitter used to be. And then, just as happens in Nerve, more and more people got involved and things quickly went downhill. The more popular both twitter and Nerve became, the less pleasant the experience. The same is true for just about everything that’s ever happened online. It always starts out as fun until the trolls arrive. (And trolls, of course, have the magic ability to use their mere presence to transform former non-trolls into trolls as well.) Nerve answers the age-old question of why we can’t have nice things.
Beyond that, it’s an entertaining film. Emma Roberts and Dave Franco make for an exceptionally likable couple, the film is quickly paced, and Michael Simmonds’s cinematography gives the film an appealing and slickly flamboyant look. Nerve didn’t really get as much attention as it deserved when it was originally released but I have a feeling that it is a film that will be rediscovered and appreciated by viewers in the future.