Two young filmmakers from New York city, Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost, start documenting the burgeoning relationship between their roommate (and brother in the case of Ariel) Nev and a family from Michigan. Said relationship exists only through online correspondence and phone calls. As a romance seems to be arising between Nev and Meghan, who is oldest daughter in the family, the filmmakers decide to make a trip to meet the family in person.
As the months pass, the story becomes so elaborate and strange that many critics have questioned the authenticity of this film as a documentary. I personally find it is worth looking past any doubt or beliefs and simply enjoy the mystery bubbling under the surface of the romance plot, as well as surprising level of pathos and intriguing character drama one receives from this story.
This entire relationship that the film is profiling is rooted in the use of Facebook. Long gone are the days where a pen pal will suffice. Nev converses with each member of the family, their Facebook “friends,” listens to songs they have recorded and sent, use Google to see their homes in real time, and is virtually witness to all aspects of their lives, except possibly the truth.
When the filmmakers finally meet the family, you would be a stronger man than if you could tear your eyes away from the screen. Be they actors or true people, the emotions and motivations behind the family and the filmmakers is downright fascinating. At this point I must apologize for my use of vague terms and less then thorough detailing of the “mystery” and “truth.” I have done so to save the worthwhile twists from being spoiled in what is truly a worthwhile examination of online deception and modern, technologically aided (or ailed?) relationships.
Widescreen 1.85:1. This was filmed on small digital cameras, some mainly designed for still photographs, so the quality is not very Hollywood but that was clearly the aim of these filmmakers who could only capture the moments as they happened spontaneously (or at least wanted to create the illusion of spontaneity like Blair Witch attempted to do, if you subscribed to the idea that this is a hoax). That said, the transfer to DVD has been a very clean one and should be commended for the level it delivers.
Dolby Digital 5.1 in English, Spanish and French. Once again, despite the simpler equipment they used the sound quality is quite good. Conversations where half is coming through a phone’s speaker are surprisingly clear. My own suspicions start to arise because of the film’s good quality sound and video, especially when I have witnessed many a filmmakers personally struggle for hours to get such shots or audio. But I digress for now..
Secrets Revealed: Exclusive Interview with the Filmmakers: This is not really the expose the jarring title would have you believe. These three young men politely answer some questions and maintain their insistence that it was all real and are not embarrassed to admit to being naive during the process. Innocent enough.
I had heard the hype about this film but still managed to be surprised by my level of interest upon watching this. This story will not be soon forgotten by those that experience it.