TIFF Next Wave Review: 'Crshd' Puts a Gen-Z Spin on Rom-Com Tropes Directed by Emily Cohn
Starring Isabelle Barbier, Shelby Brunn, Daniel Cramer, Raph Fineberg, Deeksha Ketkar, Sadie Scott
Published Feb 14, 2020Emily Cohn's feature debut, Crshd, is a charming little Gen Z comedy dedicated to all the self-conscious, awkward girls out there.
The film follows Izzy (Isabelle Barbier) as she navigates her last hours of freshman year with her friends Anuka (Deeksha Ketkar) and Fiona (Sadie Scott). Izzy is living in a cloud of sexual fantasy — her head is a romantic comedy, but her expectations are unrealistic, mainly because of all the pressure she puts on herself. She's embarrassed being a virgin and feels pressured to lose it. There's also the universal pressure of being the most beautiful and most talented person in the room. It takes until the end of the film for her to realize that she'll find a guy she won't need to impress, but her trying-too-hard awkwardness makes for some of the biggest laughs. Barbier employs some great physical comedy here, as she tries to get her "out of her league" crush to notice her. It's a film that feels all too relatable in many respects.
It's a narrative that we've seen dozens of times before, but what makes it different is the creativity in its storytelling through its use of digital media. The film opens with the most creative opening credits to a film I've seen in a long time — an ode to '90s Nintendo gameplay, and its a technical choice that stays throughout.
The film also uses other unique techniques to highlight social media use in the Gen Z age. Texting between Izzy and her friends is set on a split-screen — colours used to differentiate each member — as each friend reads their texts out loud to the camera. When Izzy swipes on Tindr, the guys appear onscreen reading out their bios. Same thing for Facebook, when she creeps on people's profiles, each explaining their Facebook use: "I haven't changed my profile picture since 2007"; "I only use Facebook to follow band pages"; "I don't have Facebook so technically I don't exist." It's quirky and entertaining.
Crshd is a game and Izzy wants the achievement of being crushed so she can attend the last big "crush party" before the summer break. Cohn's amusing debut manages to stay fresh, as it holds a mirror to young people, especially college students. Izzy believes she can't afford to have fun because it could jeopardize her success, which is why she feels the need to fantasize. But college culture, more than anything, is about having fun and the film asks students to let loose, take a break and live as pressure-free as possible. It's a film by a young woman, starring young women, for young women and we need more of that.