dir. Hannah Barlow and Kane Senes
Cecilia (Aisha Dee) leads a double life: online she’s a popular influencer, preaching her own brand of well-being and self-acceptance whilst endorsing face masks by Elon Mask, but IRL her flat is a mess and she’s racked with insecurities, something that comes to the fore when she bumps into childhood bestie Emma (co-director Barlow) and is invited to her bachelorette weekend. As Cecilia tags along the awkwardness amps up to a crescendo when it’s revealed that her old bully will also be there, who used to teasingly call her ‘Sissy’.
The idea of duality – online vs. real life; the names Cecilia vs. Sissy – is at the heart of Barlow and Senes’ brutal evisceration of the emotional disconnect that social media can breed. It’s no coincidence that our protagonist’s Insta handle is “Sincerely Cecilia” and this idea of sincerity vs. fakery in how people present themselves – as much to themselves as others – produces many of the film’s standout moments.
For what begins as Cecilia lip-reading trash talk through sound-proof windows and overhearing cruel jibes soon begins to spiral, her mind splitting between the idealised version she projects to the world and the nagging internal fear that perhaps she isn’t loved, isn’t enough and – worst of all – is evil.
Alongside relatable cringe moments the directors also show themselves to be masters of splatter comedy, the violence flowing like Shiraz as the hens weekend gets underway: the second half in particular is a complete joy as it descends into increasingly farcical absurdity.
Gory, funny and wryly moving, Sissy is the best kind of satire: one which will have audiences laughing through clenched teeth with a hint of self-recognition.
© Tim Coleman