Fantasia 2021: “#Blue_Whale”

Rating: 5 out of 5.

As someone who grew up watching Soviet cinema, I am well aware of the power of Russian cinema and what it’s capable of if the tools they have is used properly. Not impressed with the films coming from the culturally rich country lately, I was amazed by Anna Zaytseva’s first feature film. Because the concept it touches upon is so powerful, whether you want it or not, you will be fully absorbed in it.

Using the Screenlife narrative format (Profile, Searching and the Unfriended), “#Blue_Whale” does not go far from the perfection of the newly invented format. Inspired by true cybercrimes, the film follows Dana (Anna Potebnya), a smart girl with great potential and excellent grades at school, who is deeply grieving due to the loss of her younger sister. Not understanding why would her sister commit suicide, the young woman opens up her computer to find that her sister was involved in a dark game called Blue_Whale.A game that promises its users eternal peace if they fulfil all the requirements. In order to understand what really happened, Dana signs up to the dark and dangerous social media, where she begins to be absorbed deeply, and people around her begin to question her sanity – rather the lack of it.

“#Blue_Whale” does not disappoint when it comes to playing with an important subject matter such as suicide, cybersecurity, family abuse, pain, blood, violence and how it all gets played in one’s mind. Especially one who is too vulnerable to think clearly. The manipulation concept through social media is well unfolded in this film, showing how users are losing touch with reality as they are in constant search for excitement. Strangely, what the film shows, which is not susprising, is that excitement comes at the price of someone’s pain. Because it’s thrilling to see suffering, someone jumping off a bridge or balcony to his or death.

“#Blue_Whale” is a film that makes you think. It is so rich with the concept, it cleverly unfolds each important element in such a way that you won’t feel bored at all. The conclusion, of course, is more or less predictable. But that does not hurt the film. It just shows whatever happens in life, especially that bad outcomes are avoidable. But when the right tool ends up in the wrong hands, it is used to abuse and hurt people. That tool is social media, which, in a way, is a firearm but without bullets – kills slowly and painfully, which is why Zaytseva’s film works. She’s not afraid to explore and reveal to us so we know what we are dealing with from now on.

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