Share (2019)

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Food: While at Rockaway Beach in Queens this weekend, myself and a couple of friends decided to try a new brunch spot there, located around 95th St, called Bernadette’s. Painted green and placed on the corner of a bustling neighborhood area, it is easy to find and the inside is decorated with books, plants and open windows. I ordered the Bernadette classic – which consists of a simple eggs cooked any style (scrambled), bacon or sausage (bacon – they cooked it perfectly too), choice of toast (English muffin), and potatoes. My friends got the burger with bacon and avocado. They don’t have a liquor license, but we brought our own bloody mary’s (Shh!) and I definitely recommend.

Film: “Share” is a hard pill to swallow. Directed by Pippa Bianco, who also worked on Euphoria, this small flick debuted at Sundance and screened at Cannes, but is now available for home-screenings on HBO. It is gripping from the start and driven primarily by the emotional journey of a young high school girl, focusing on the things that are left unsaid after trauma.

Rhianne Barreto brilliantly plays Mandy, a basketball playing teenager who has a good life, surrounded by many friends and a supportive family. The film starts, though, with her waking up on her front lawn, confused and afraid, with no memory of the night before and a bad feeling in the pit of her stomach. She stares blankly at herself in the mirror, assessing her hollowed out eyes and when she removes her pants, she stares at them too. Something is not right.

It does not take long for her to start receiving an influx of concerned messages from friends informing her that a video is circulating. The footage is disturbing. The raw experience of watching it is more powerful than I could describe, but the behavior shown by the young men (her friends) in the video is not okay. However, a lot of what is visible from the clip is left to the viewers imagination, making it impossible to actually understand what has happened to her, who is responsible and what can be done about it.

The story weaves through a lot of twists and turns, and is supported by an excellent cast, including Poorna Jagannathan (The Night Of) and J.C. MacKenzie (Vinyl), who play her parents. There is a couple of key confrontational moments, and uncomfortable discussions, but the anchor of the film is Mandy and her quiet and somber fight to get clarity about whether or not she was raped. It is heartbreaking.

In the past year, the floodgates finally burst open on the long history of sexual assault and mistreatment of women (and sometimes men) in society, resulting in a surge of conversations around consent, abuse of power and the invisible, ignored victims. As these discussions became more prevalent, it quickly became clear that there are still a lot of gray areas in the true understanding of assault. The crucial thing that “Share” brings to light is how the absence of a hard “no” is not a “yes.” Unfortunately, for a long time in our culture, there has been a lack of education about the expectations people should have around sex. In beloved films of the past, we see lines being crossed in incredibly troubling ways – in both “Animal House” (1978) and “Sixteen Candles” (1984) there are scenes where young women, who are too drunk to open their eyes or even stand on their own, are being propositioned for sex, as if they are easy bait. It is disturbing to look back and recognize that these when these instances are depicted as normal over and over again in media, it perpetuated the idea that it actually is normal, instead of deeply wrong.

It is so important for films, stories, and media to continue to reflect the nuances of rape, and “Share” does an incredible job of that. It will leave viewers thinking, as a provocative film of this nature should. It will also hopefully ignite a lot of conversations about these difficult topics, especially among young people who are only starting to define their boundaries, expectations and assumptions about what is “normal” when it comes to consensual sex.

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