Review: ‘Story of a Girl,’ on Overcoming Viral Infamy

The film is based on Sara Zarr’s young-adult novel, which was published only 10 years ago but has been updated here to account for the viral-video phenomenon; the route to infamy was somewhat lower-tech in the book. But the kind of shaming Deanna endures is, of course, as old as society, and this admirably layered story is not so much about the vilification as it is about the recovery, for both Deanna and those close to her.

Jon Tenney does fine work as Deanna’s father, Ray, who has yet to forgive her but doesn’t realize how cold he has grown, or the effect it is having on the rest of his family. More subtle is the push and pull between Deanna and Darren (Iain Belcher), her protective older brother, who, like Deanna, is eager to break away from his parents and establish an independent life. He has the added challenge of being a new father; the troubles between him and the baby’s mother (played by Sosie Bacon, Mr. Bacon and Ms. Sedgwick’s daughter) provide a thoughtful counterpoint to Deanna’s problems.

The scenes between Ms. Shane and Mr. Belcher are sharp and poignant, and so are those between Ms. Shane and Mr. Bacon, who keeps his star power in check in a secondary role. Ms. Sedgwick has everything and everyone stay low-key, as befitting a nuanced story where, as in real life, there are no easy ways around the past, only a slow determination to move beyond it.

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