Filmmaker Katherine Brooks turns the camera on herself in this film. After surgery, Brooks put out a notice on Facebook saying that she would visit the first 50 people to respond. Soon, she had a cross-country itinerary. This film follows her on that journey.
At first, I expected a documentary that showed us the variety of online "friends" she had. I expected a few poignant moments, a fair amount of mutual admiration, and perhaps some unintended humor. I thought there might be some mockery of the seriousness with which people treat their online relationships, but I thought it possible, too, that I would see the opposite: a celebration of how real these relationships can be. As it turned out, there was none of the former and some of the latter, but in neither case was I fully prepared for what this film showed me.
Some of the interactions were truly touching, especially those of lesbians (sometimes that's clear, and other times, I assume) who nearly deified Brooks, seeing in her a voice they did not find elsewhere. For them, Brooks seems to be a hero, a friend, and a counselor. There is nothing romantic here--just honest human interactions. One interaction reunites Brooks with a childhood friend for whom Brooks's sexuality apparently proved too much.
But the heart of the film is Brooks herself. Throughout much of this, she is profoundly depressed--suicidally so at times. She comes across as a very fragile person, despite her strengths. I see that another person called the film "self-indulgent," and it's hard to argue with that point. But that self-indulgence is not necessarily a weakness. In fact, it's what gives the film its greatest power. Watching, I was completely mesmerized, and the experience felt extremely intimate, for I was seeing a side of people that is almost never shown, a side, indeed, that was once considered shameful to show. The result is an apparently brutally honest self-portrait and a film that I found impossible not to watch to the end.