I saw “Nerve” with no expectations. Meaning I hadn’t heard anything about the movie prior to seeing it in theaters. Needless to say, this is a rare occasion since I always am a well-documented watcher; checking reviews, the cast, hell even trivia… IMDB is my go-to on a regular basis. But for some reason I didn’t come across any of the publicity promoting the film except for the trailer, a few moments before watching it on the big screen.
In this movie, Emma Roberts plays the titular character Vee, an ordinary high school student who could be perceived as a cookie-cutter with a cautious perspective on life. She has a close-knit group of friends and a good relationship with her mother played by Juliette Lewis.
After being confronted for her lack of risk taking by her best friend Sydney (Emily Meade) following a humiliating incident, Vee decides to join Nerve as a player. She rapidly gets caught up in this secret online game where completing dares in real time equals cash rewards.
The game is explained in the movie as “truth or dare without the truth”. Which at first may seem as contradictory but the statement actually might reveal the darkness lying beneath the surface. If innocent at the beginning, the dares build to a suspenseful ending. Vee’s first dare “kiss a stranger” leads her to meet Ian (Dave Franco), a fellow player of the game in a diner. With their increasing popularity online, they decide to become partners.
In the beginning, when Vee creates her Nerve profile, it collected all of her digital footprint from her Facebook profile to her shared bank account with her mother. While she and Ian team up and accomplish dares (created by their followers), her gains are directly deposited in her account, and when she wants to back out, every penny is withdrawn…
Rather than an other brainless teen flick, “Nerve” offers a crucial message about Internet privacy, security and virtual identity. It depicts the contemporary reality of mass social media usage as well as trolling and cyberbullying and the effects of peer pressure. A depiction that rings true to the world 2.0 of today showcasing a lesser known side of the web (notably Big Data). It raises important questions about Internet usage without adopting a preachy attitude. These interrogations include: How is personal information stored? Who has access to that information? When I say “I agree”, what I’m I signing up to?
This movie criticizes the strive to becoming insta famous and seeking glory at all costs. This mainstream idea of success proves to be unideal, even dangerous. “Nerve” effectively demonstrates the downfall of the quest to become viral. It shows that the notions of privacy and security can easily be skewed.
The film also pokes at the concept of anonymity online where users feel free to express anything on social media without any second thought. Anonymity makes some feel empowered to call to hate and violence; they do not think that another person is actually at the end of the screen.
The exposé is done whilst including traditional landmarks of the teen movie such as the crush, the romance, the friendships and the catfight which serve the intrigue. In the midst of the Pokemon Go craze, where accidents as well as lack of judgement happen when entrenched in the game, “Nerve” couldn’t come out at a better time.
All in all, I was surprisingly pleased by Emma Roberts portrayal of Vee, a character that strays from the frequent “Queen B” roles she had in the past. She transposed onto the screen a teenager that has a strong sense of justice and is still figuring out who she wants to be. Even if she makes mistakes she isn’t afraid to get back at the game and denounce it as morally corrupt.