A High School Cliche
By Bashirat Oladele
To be honest, the first look of the movie did earn an eye roll from me. On the surface, the movie seems like your typical high school movie, never was done before, except maybe a couple hundred times.
When it was initially presented, naturally, I started the movie with certainty that this would be one of the usual rom-com movies. However, I’m pleased to admit that I was proved wrong on more than one occasion while watching Confessions of an Invisible Girl.
Tetê is not an introvert who sticks to herself and grumbles about not being like the ‘others’, whatever that means. Rather she’s a social being who is cast out by general society and even made fun by others for some of her ‘quirks’. She craves a normal social life and even a romance, and often jumps the gun when it comes to falling in love.
Her quirks or ‘character flaws’ are not restricted to glasses and paint on her clothes. Her little situation of her being caught in this circle of ‘being socially awkward equals no social life, but no social life means becoming more socially awkward’ is actually something many teenagers can relate to. That, and her nervous sweating.
The movie also undoes some cliches. For instance, the makeover scene is not some big dramatic moment for others to see Tetê in a different light. Heads didn’t turn as she walked in, and there were no double-takes from the other kids. Sure, she receives compliments, but so does everyone when they’re all dressed up.
The makeover scene has little significance in the overall story, or the party scene itself. It also has very little significance in Tetê’s character growth. In the end, it’s really just a teenage girl getting ready for a really big party. Additionally, it helps uncover the superficial nature of one character instead of making it a ‘FINALLY!’ moment for our adorable protagonist.
Tetê as a protagonist was adorable. The acting in the movie was good. Not that the story demanded a lot of depth or conviction. Given the tone and pitch of the movie, everyone in the movie was believable.
Even though Tetê gets caught up in a bit of a love triangle, it’s not overly dramatised and everything falls into place without making her choice the biggest focus of the story. It’s worth appreciating that her friend Davi has a platonic relationship with her throughout, and their interactions come across as natural and organic.
Tetê’s family situation struck a chord with me. They weren’t vicious, strict or negligent, which is almost always the reason for socially anxious teenagers in movies. Not that strict or negligent families don’t exist, but it’s certainly not the story of every single household. Her folks and grandparents genuinely want the best for her and do their best to help her. Problem is that their way of helping sometimes does more harm than good.
She loves them, but sometimes she doesn’t particularly love the way in which they love her. That’s a more nuanced portrayal than grouping grown-ups into very cruel and very supportive.
I did have some issues with the characterisation of Zeca, another friend of Tetê, at least with the way he was introduced to us. When we first meet him, Zeca seems a little too flirtatious with all the guys in class and extremely judgmental about looks.
However, for the rest of the movie Zeca is a regular guy whose sexuality is just part of who he is. He is wise, always there for his friends, and even chides Tetê for judging her own looks. Nevertheless, he’s such a great character in the entire movie except for the introduction part.
Stereotyping is also an issue with some other characters. The blonde is still the bully and the brunette is still bullied, no difference there. The surfer guy is, as always, academically lacking. If only they’d have switched it up for once, and hadn’t matched physical traits with personality traits.
The messaging in the movie is a double edged sword. I am impressed with the more humane take on bullying and bullies, and the portrayal of the fact that the social hierarchy in high school is so stringent that you are either the bully or the bullied. But in a few instances, it almost appears to be excusing bullying rather than educating us about it.
However, the movie ends on a happy note, a little too happy for my taste. Then again, for a feel-good teen drama-comedy, it’s probably the best kind of ending.