Defying The Boundaries Between Cute And Creepy: "Sierra Burgess Is A Loser" Review

The hype around “Sierra Burgess Is A Loser” started when the soundtrack was released back in July. With the songwriters Bram Inscore (Hayley Kiyoko and Chloe x Halle) and Leland (Selena Gomez and Sabrina Carpenter) in charge of it, the pressure was definitely there. They’re both very well-known in the music industry and have worked with some pretty big names, therefore, the soundtrack was expected to be amazing. And they delivered it. We’ll talk more about this later on.

Other than the soundtrack, another thing that made the movie very talked about was the presence of some big names. Sierra is portrayed by Shannon Purser (Stranger Things and Riverdale), R.J Cyler plays Dan (Power Rangers and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl), Noah Centineo is Jamey (The Fosters and To All the Boys I've Loved Before), Will Peltz becomes Spence (Unfriended and Men, Women & Children) and the legends Lea Thompson (Back to the Future and Switched at Birth) and Alan Ruck (Ferris Bueller's Day Off and The Exorcist) are Sierra’s parents, which we refuse to believe that was a coincidence at all.

Image Source: Shannon Purser on Instagram

A modern and gender-reversed adaption of Edmond Rostand's famous 1897 play, Cyrano de Bergerac, where Cyrano is a soldier, poet and musician, but has a large nose that makes him doubt himself, thinking no one would be able to love him through his “ugliness”. He is in love with Roxanne, who’s in love with Christian, which, from lack of intellect, fails to write her a love letter. Cyrano then offers his services and writes letters to Roxanne in Christian’s name. Roxanne was “catfished”, a term that wasn’t a thing then, but that explains the situation very well.

However, by bringing the story to a high school in the modern era, the entire situation becomes, if anything, a bit creepy. Sierra is an intelligent student who hopes to get into Stanford University and is really good at writing poems and songs. She isn't considered "pretty" by the high school definition, but when a “case of mistaken identity” between her and the popular girl, Veronica, causes her to meet Jamey, someone who she never thought would even look at her, she feels the need to team up with Veronica to don’t lose him.

Image Source: Shannon Purser on Instagram 

This obviously isn’t the ideal way for a romance to develop and that’s perceptible in the story, which makes it very hard to even buy the romance at all. From “deep, but actually very shallow” conversations between the main couple to a cringe moment that throws the concept of consent out of the window, it’s nearly impossible to care about whether Sierra and Jamey are going to end up together after all. Not even the actors’ charisma and cute moments together can save this romance.

But from this dubious situation comes a good thing. Sierra and Veronica’s friendship, which seemed unlikely in the beginning, becomes one of the best things about the movie. Veronica, initially depicted as the arrogant bitchy queen bee, seems to open up completely with Sierra and they bring out the best in each other. It’s quite wonderful to see the girls bond over literature, philosophy and, of course, their plan to keep Jamey in the dark about who he’s been actually talking to. Besides, seeing where Veronica comes from and her character development throughout the movie reminds us (and both girls) to never judge a book by it’s cover.

Image Source: IMDb

Another very important message to take from this movie, as said by Noah during an interview to BuzzFeed, is “don’t let society dictate what beauty is”. The idea of just caring about someone’s appearance makes the world such a judgemental place, more than it already is. If every single person only cared about looks, and not personality, most relationships, friendships and etc, would end almost instantly.

There are also some strong performances in this movie. The new-comer actress Kristine Froseth draws attention with a beautifully done acting of Veronica, in which you end up understanding to a point where you may feel bad for her. Honestly, we come to the conclusion that Veronica, and therefore Froseth, may be one of the greatest characters - and actresses - on the movie, from her intimate and sensible performance and growth throughout the story’s development.  

Image Source: IMDb

Shannon Purser delivers an extremely human Sierra, a character at odds between her intellect and her insecurities about her look. Yes, she makes mistakes and sometimes we may want to yell at the screen because of some of her decisions, but it is impossible not to relate to her in some way. There is a certain rawness about all those feelings Sierra keeps deeply inside of her and Purser’s performance is spot on when her character finally gets everything out of her system.

Image Source: IMDb

Noah Centineo plays the classic trope “jock with feelings” (Jamie at one point makes it very clear that he’s not like the other athletes on his team) and, being the main character’s love interest, we don’t get to know a whole lot about him. But even though we don’t get to see things from his point of view, Centineo still manages to play a very endearing boy, which shows specially through some of the character’s quirks.

RJ Cyler, as charismatic as ever, does a wonderful job when playing Sierra’s best friend, and what made Dan’s presence so important in our opinion was the fact that he was the only person that knew about the “catfishing” situation that actually called it “catfish”. He tried his best to make his best friend see what was right and what was wrong and do the correct thing. During the development of Sierra and Veronica’s friendship he is put to one side slightly, but continues to be by his friend’s side.

Image Source: Zimbio 

The main song from the movie is, without a doubt, Sunflower. Performed by Shannon Purser, it captures what’s it like to be different. Based on lyrics written by screenwriter Lindsey Beer when she was a teen, it was worked on and composed by Leland. The lyrics are quite sad, but as the movie plays out, when the song finally appears, it takes a different meaning, it becomes emotional and sweet, a sort of confession and a moment of great vulnerability for Sierra. The soundtrack in general has a rather retro and soothing feel about it and it stands out throughout the movie making everything come together.

Despite the good acting and amazing soundtrack, there’s a main problem about the plot that we feel that needs to be addressed: there were close to zero consequences to Sierra’s actions. She was forgiven quite easily by Jamey after he found out about the “catfishing”, by Veronica after doing something that was quite unforgivable to her, and by Dan after lying and not being a good friend. Obviously we would like for “catfishing” to not be a thing anymore, but it still exists and it’s very dangerous, therefore, everyone that does it or has done it, should know that there are consequences to their actions, but this is something the movie doesn’t make a top priority and it actually expects us to completely ignore for the sake of the plot.

Image Source: Entertainment World

Overall, Sierra Burgess is a Loser is an okay movie about friendship, not meant to be taken that seriously, but perfect to watch if you want something cute to distract you on a lazy Sunday. If you would like to watch the trailer before watching the movie and forming your own opinion, here it is.