For some adults, the years of high school take on a nostalgic sheen, to be referred to as “the best years of my life.” For the rest of us normal people, being 15 or 16 was a time to be endured. A time that was mostly eventful in the ways we’d prefer it not to be, in the cringe-worthy ways. The heroine of Netflix‘s new Brazilian teen comedy Confessions of an Invisible Girl definitely falls into the later category.
Tete (Klara Castanho) has never been popular, or even very social at all, and now she has to change schools in the middle of the year due to her parents’ job situation. She wants to avoid being bullied and try to make friends now that she is in a new place, but she fears her awkward tendencies are going nowhere around cute boy Erick and his vile, mean girlfriend Valentina. She does gain friends in Davi (Gabriel Lima) and Zeca (Marcus Bessa), who encourage Tete to believe in herself. Tete’s family lovingly echoes this sentiment, but in the form of criticisms that have all the sensitivity of a freight train.
As is typical for this type of story, Tete is interested in Erick despite his popular girlfriend. However, she also meets Davi’s older brother Dudu and sparks with him as well. The resolution of that subplot is easy to guess as certain scenes play out, but another plot point appears that is surprisingly executed. When presenting a project, Tete accidentally plays a video showing Valentina insulting the entire school. Of course, Valentina is livid and physically attacks Tete but Tete doesn’t even know who recorded the video, much less how it got in her group’s presentation. When this subplot is resolved, the audience is in for an unexpected reveal.
The ending of this film makes clear that a central theme here is acceptance– of oneself and others. It’s unfortunate that writer-director Bruno Garotti‘s screenplay, based on an original story by Thalita Reboucas, is so formulaic and heavy-handed in examining this theme. Though it’s clear they care about her, Tete’s family undermine their own advice to her when they say things that imply her less than-social personality needs to be different.
Any adolescent girl will also be able to tell you that popularity is often dependent on factors out of the control of one reigning queen bee. Plus, Valentina is presented as so thoroughly horrible that one incident of public shaming doesn’t feel like enough to change her. She could probably apologize while seeming sincere and stay popular without really improving as a person.
Garotti has a stronger sense of the visual. He makes fun, engaging use of split screens for montages periodically, for example. He also has a ear for song and music use. The cast he has assembled mostly does him credit, too. Castanho as Tete in partcular is an adorable performer and perfectly cast. Since I am also a short brunette with brown eyes myself, I find her very relatable! I for one want to try to keep an eye open for her future roles.
Let us hope, though, that less cliche and predictability are in store for her. And for Garotti as well. I also want to say that I appreciate this one being subtitled instead of dubbed, Netflix! Confessions of an Invisible Girl has a lot of heart but it is also too typical to truly distinguish itself within it’s genre, which is amply represented on this streaming service.
Overall rating: 3 diamonds out of 5.