'CRSHD' Review: The Millennials Are All Right in a Charming Collegiate Rom-Com [Tribeca]
Emojis and Tinder are the order of the day in CRSHD, an ode to millennial romance that juggles silliness and sincerity, though it occasionally drops the ball. Written and directed by Emily Cohn, the romantic-comedy follows a familiar formula: a group of close girlfriends vow to find love, especially for the ditzy protagonist who wants to lose her virginity before summer break, and find themselves getting into a series of hijinks over the course of one wild, booze-filled night.
But first-time feature director Cohn displays an intimate understanding of the inner workings of the college girl’s mind, helping to elevate CRSHD from the stale trappings of the genre and preventing it from taking on the patronizing tone that so many millennial comedies have adopted. The result is a charming coming-of-age comedy that manages to communicate a sweet message about friendship despite sometimes being buried by a visual barrage of texts and predictable plot conceits.
CRSHD follows three best friends Izzy (Isabelle Barbier), Anuka (Deeksha Ketkar), and Fiona (Sadie Scott) as they prepare to head into summer at the close of their freshman year. Eager for some action, Anuka and Fiona persuade the self-conscious Izzy to attend a “crush party,” where people submit their crushes to be invited, and finally lose her virginity. In the hours leading up to the party, the three of them pore over the social media profiles of their separate crushes — for Izzy, it’s the guy friend of the coolest girl at their small liberal arts university; for Anuka, a senior “meme lord;” for Fiona, an artsy girl with a passion for bowling.
Cohn takes a creative approach to showing how prominent social media has become for the millennial (or is it Gen Z?) generation, employing a flashy split-screen separated by vibrant pastel colors whenever the girls text in their group chat, and blowing up the Instagram or Facebook profile to take over half the frame whenever they peruse the platforms. CRSHD is perhaps the most web-savvy coming-of-age comedy as of late, showing a far better understanding of what how ubiquitous social media is. But sometimes Cohn can get caught up in clever visual gimmick, dedicating far too much time to the media of it all, but not the social.
The script for CRSHD is somewhat loose and shaky, which isn’t aided by the frequently stilted line readings. But that amateurish quality can be endearing, giving a far more accurate portrayal of the awkward encounters of college life, with young, raw actors who look and talk like they are still in school. It’s a version of college that movies so rarely capture, with Hollywood studio movies often casting actors who are well into their 30s to play college kids who speak with a much smoother diction than any real-life student. Barbier and Ketkar give sweetly spontaneous performances as Izzy and Anuka, respectively, lending an awkward authenticity to the recognizable hallmarks of the genre. Scott shows the most polish as the fiery Fiona, the typically witty and likable friend with curly blonde hair who is quickly becoming a stock character in the coming-of-age comedy movie (seriously, with Edge of Seventeen and Booksmart, this is becoming a trope).
The performances are a little rough, but it’s easily forgiven as part of Cohn’s more genuine portrait of collegiate life. However, as the film wears on, it becomes apparent that CRSHD is more style over substance. The film stumbles through the emotional beats with such a lack of conviction that it’s questionable whether the three girls are friends at all. Thankfully, Barbier, Ketkar, and Scott have just enough chemistry to make that friendship believable.
CRSHD has some promising ideas and visually inventive ways of presenting them, but it still feels like a rough draft of a film. The humor lands, and the character dynamics offer a charming backbone for CRSHD, but this coming-of-age comedy could do with some workshopping.
/Film Rating: 6 out of 10
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