Directed by: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman
Produced by: Andrew Jarecki, Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman, Marc Smerling, among others
Cinematography by: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman, Yaniv Schulman
Edited by: Zachary Stuart-Pontier
Original Score by: Mark Mothersbaugh
Subjects: Yaniv “Nev” Schulman, Ariel “Rel” Schulman, Henry Joost, Angela Wesselman-Pierce, Melody C. Roscher, among others
Synopsis: Two twentysomething filmmakers (Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost) start to document Schulman’s brother, “Nev”, as he develops this relationship with a woman he met over Facebook after her sister sent him a painting of one of his photos. The friendly relationship soon becomes more intimate, but as it does Nev starts to find holes in the logic of her story. On a spur-of-the-moment detour from one of the group’s gigs, they travel to this woman’s house to watch the truth unravel.
(Some of this will be put under the “Read more” tag because it’s hard to talk about its overall emotional impact without discussing some of the spoilers.)
I might’ve read too much of the buzz surrounding this film before actually seeing it, so I already had the gist of what the ending would be and its sense of surprise was lessened. That being said, for the first half of the movie I had a really hard time believing any of it to be real—or, at the very least, heavily fabricated and/or worthy of documentation. Sure, it’s not like online romantic relationships are super common—and sure, it may be a little out of the ordinary to receive oil-painted fan art of your photographic work—but even in an age of massive multimedia obsession it seems really weird to me that these guys would spend almost a year just following their brother around with a camera to document his every trivial move with a possible love interest. Hell, this was even made before Vine or Snapchat was a thing, so these are some really camera-happy dudes! And Nev isn’t even all that interesting of a guy to begin with—he’s just a college-aged New Yorker feigning interest in the daily events of this dubbed “Facebook Family’s” life.
And, as some reviews have stated, the film feels a little too convenient to be legitimate. Even though the filmmakers claim happy coincidence, it seems to unfold in a way that’s too perfectly narrative.
But let’s play innocent for a minute. Let’s give these filmmakers the shadow of a doubt…