CRSHD: Floundering Narrative Fails To Entice In College Comedy

Emily Cohn’s debut CRSHD follows three young women celebrating the last night of their first year at college at campus’ most exclusive party – Izzy (Isabelle Barbier) is desperate to finally lose her virginity while trying to stay calm for her exam the following day, while her two friends Anuka (Deeksha Ketkar) and Fiona (Sadie Scott) try to help her while dealing with their own issues as the school year begins to wind down.

Keeping It Social

There is something to be said about how social media is portrayed in films. For years it’s had only a small part in coming of age films, not really getting much more than a passing message, when in reality if you are part of the young millennial age group, or Gen Z, it dominates how you communicate, organise your life and show yourself to the world – that’s not a cry for help, or a nostalgia-driven look to the past, it is a fact.

CRSHD: Floundering Narrative Fails to Entice in College Comedy
source: 101 Films

Cohn falls into this age-group, born at the end of the 1990s, we didn’t grow up with social media until Facebook got huge from 2007-09, but it’s been a huge part of our lives ever since. Instead of avoiding the subject, she weaves this parallel communication into every aspect of CRSHD. Group chats involve all three characters sitting on chairs, looking directly at the camera as they read their texts out loud, a neon pink floods a bowling alley as the cool arty girl shows off her Instagram page, slowly unwinding it as it was being scrolled past, while Fiona and Izzy look on admiringly and with a little jealousy.

The production design helps elevate these cut scenes, furniture is painted the exact colour of the backdrop – each social media has a different colour assigned, and its own traits: Tinder rejections are swiped right and flipped immediately from a chair, Facebook connections stand in the corners of rooms and introduce themselves, or characters chatting via video call are in the same space but also strangely disconnected.

It is this element of the film that is the most unique and intriguing part, that the rest of CRSHD, sadly, does not live up to.

Bland Conflicts

While Izzy, Fiona and Anuka have enough to contend with in first getting an invitation to the Crush Party – aka the hottest party on campus – then getting to it before the very measly curfew of 11 pm, as well as Izzy having to find the person who invited her, there are unnecessary diversions in their trip to last night party time that add nothing but frustration and a sense of annoyance that does not bode well for the characters.

CRSHD: Floundering Narrative Fails to Entice in College Comedy
source: 101 Films

There are issues of missing alcohol, random trips to the middle of a field with two boys who have apparently just robbed the girls’ dorm room for said alcohol, a bowling alley threatened with closure because someone (Izzy) stole the boots of the cool girl on campus because she was getting compliments for them. These are meant to introduce an element of narrative intrigue to the story but they end up being pointless, and frankly a little silly.

We have had various iterations of the “one big night” story: Superbad, Booksmart, Blockers – all of which share a supposedly simple task invariably confused by these additional little narrative trails and added tension, but unfortunately, CRSHD would do better if more attention was paid to the characters rather than the tropes of this type of film.

Blander Characters

There are a wealth of young adult novels, and countless amount of fanfiction written about the “misunderstood” girl, the one who wears all black and doesn’t quite know how to fit with her effortlessly cool classmates. These can be used as a shortcut to a large story, but CRSHD instead relies on the trope of the edgy misfit without any further introspection.

CRSHD: Floundering Narrative Fails to Entice in College Comedy
source: 101 Films

Izzy’s love of astrophysics is not a bad thing, neither is her desire and conflict over whether to go to the party instead of revising, but when it seems to be the only aspect of her personality it becomes another frustrating element of the film. Without any other intertwining narrative strings or a wider exploration, it becomes the sole driver, leaving the audience frankly not caring about her opinions of the various scientists she has pictured on her walls.

CRSHD relies too heavily on these stereotypical characters instead of crafting a unique narrative: there’s the “quirky” and embarrassing mum, the stoner boy, the awkward love interest, and his annoying best friend, all crammed into this 81-minute comedy without being given room to breathe.

A Final Grade

CRSHD is a visually bold film; its depiction of social media is genuinely unique and offers a refreshing portrayal of how ingrained it is in society. However, while a narrative focusing on young women exploring their sexuality without judgment would usually be greeted with enthusiasm, CRSHD treads well-worn stereotypes in a path that goes nowhere.

What other films portray social media in an interesting way? Let us know in the comments. 

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