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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Games People Play

In our age of social media, live networks and the "Pokémon Go" craze, a movie like ‘Nerve’ comes across as both relevant and timely indeed.  Co-directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, whose 2010 debut 'Catfish' was equally a reflection of our times and was so influential and eye-opening that it gave new meaning to the word,  hit the target once again with this gripping online reality game show thriller starring Emma Roberts, Dave Franco and Juliette Lewis.
 
‘Nerve’ is a "high-concept" movie about NY high-schooler and all-around good girl Vee Delmonico (Roberts, who turned out to be a decent young actress despite her famous aunt Julia), who’s regarded by her more spontaneous and adventurous best friend to be “boring” due to her laid-back, tame and risk-averse style.  At the urging from the friend, she got involved (reluctantly of course) in a shady online dare game called “Nerve” in which she was prompted to complete a series of increasingly high-stakes, risky and embarrassing challenges for cash reward.  With the help of a handsome young stranger (Franco, making a name for himself despite his more accomplished big brother James) who seemingly shares her own interests, how can she resist the potential romance?  But as in all such undertakings, the more she plays the deeper she sinks and the more things spiral out of control.
 
Like David Fincher’s 1997 movie ‘The Game,’ ‘Nerve’ is admittedly far-fetched and requires us to suspend our disbelief and keep our natural skepticism in check.  Luckily, this isn’t overly difficult to pull off because ‘Nerve’ is a fascinating thrill-ride with a nice twist in its final act.  Roberts and Franco possess great chemistry, propelling an otherwise unbelievable story along on the strengths of their charisma and personalities.  While ‘Nerve’ may not be wholly original (it owes its spirit to the Fincher film mentioned above), we still can’t help but become the vicarious “watchers” in the movie when all is said and done.

Grade: A-
  
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