(On HBO.) Mandy, the high school basketball player at the center of Share, starts the film by waking up on her front lawn — not an auspicious way to start the day (or a movie). Played by excellent newcomer Rhianne Barreto, Mandy is hungover, and her memory of the previous night is only slightly jogged when a video goes viral in which she’s passed out drunk on a bathroom floor, being manhandled and mocked by a group of boys. She can’t remember whether the physical abuse got any worse than what’s shown in the video, and that lack of clarity forms the crux of the “boys will be boys/why ruin a young man’s life?” arguments that inevitably ensue as Mandy’s life becomes a public spectacle.
This debut from writer-director Pippa Bianco has of-the-moment urgency but would have resonated at any time since the advent of the internet. When the video first goes viral, there’s a long take of Mandy’s iPhone as she gets an onslaught of maddeningly vague texts from friends (“OMG!” “Is this you?” “Have you seen this?” etc.), new messages coming in faster than she can respond to them, that produced palpable anxiety in me — the sheer relentlessness of instant communication, the way it can suck you in and not let you go.
The movie tackles delicate issues head-on but isn’t grueling to watch. Though Mandy was victimized, she doesn’t fall apart completely, and she has great parents (J.C. MacKenzie and Poorna Jagannathan) who do all the right things (including confronting the father of one of the boys who wants to minimize his son’s actions). Mandy’s feelings are the focus — including her ambivalence about punishing the offenders and the boredom that led her to become a regular drinker in the first place — and Barreto’s well-calibrated performance makes us privy to all of them. Mandy responds to the unwelcome notoriety with maturity, not hysteria, while remaining believably scared and vulnerable, with all the messy, conflicting emotions of a teenager. Anchored in reality but made with sympathy, the film is a thoughtful cautionary tale rather than a slog.
(Screened at the Sundance Film Festival.)