The truth is that you’re gonna watch this film because of one guy: Noah Centineo. Yes, it’s true, Sierra Burgess is a Loser features the internet’s latest boyfriend, he of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before as the sweet Peter Kavinsky. In Sierra Burgess, Noah plays Jamey, who as you can expect has the wonderfully wholesome dichotomies of handsome but dorky, and athletic but sensitive. Don’t worry, he will still make your teenage heart beat faster in this film.
But this isn’t why I think you should see it.
Sierra Burgess is the latest of Netflix’s highly popular teen-focused Original films, following the popularity of movies like To All the Boys and the so-bad-it’s-good-but-it’s-really-bad The Kissing Booth. The film follows the eponymous character (played by Sharon Purser, who first gained recognition as Barb from Stranger Things) as she navigates through high school as a “loser,” in which she has one friend and is constantly bullied by Veronica (played by Kristine Froseth) the most popular girl in school. Sierra ends up in a texting relationship with Jamey, who goes to another school, after Veronica pranks Jamey by giving him Sierra’s phone number instead of her own. Apart from a fair amount of catfishing and some FaceTime fraud, the movie poses a fairly age-old question: what do you do when you’ve gotten used to concealing the real you?
Internet boyfriend: In Sierra Burgess Is A Loser, actor Noah Centineo plays the role of another boy you’ll fall in love with.
This is the main problem that plagues many characters in Sierra Burgess, most importantly Sierra herself and former bully Veronica. Sierra is presented as an atypical beauty: tall, full-figured, and insecure despite her talent and intelligence. These are the insecurities that keep her from revealing her true self to Jamey, who throughout the movie thinks he’s been falling in love with Veronica. She gets help from the most unusual place, her very own tormentor. Veronica, who has a fairly developed story arc of her own, poses as the atypical high school beauty. While she has little of Sierra’s natural intelligence, she’s feared and beloved by her peers. But as she and Sierra become friends, we learn that Veronica has her own internal life too, and she is much pretending just as much as Sierra has been.
Sierra Burgess reveals just how strong female bonds can be, and that to show one woman is the heroine of her story doesn’t mean that you have to put down another.
Sierra and Veronica’s friendship is, in my view, the most pivotal part of the film. The romantic aspect is, okay, a big part of it. But what really pushes the two girls to change is how they become more familiar with each other’s own flaws and features. “She’s actually cool, in a totally unfortunate way,” Veronica fondly says of Sierra, while the latter is sloppily drinking from a beer bong. Sierra Burgess reveals just how strong female bonds can be, and that to show one woman is the heroine of her story doesn’t mean that you have to put down another. In fact, the movie is so intent on showing that this is more than just a romantic comedy that Sierra’s turning point doesn’t happen with Jamey, but with Veronica instead. Jamey and her story is just incidental to her relationship with Veronica — he just so happens to be the reason why they became good friends. In fact, another important relationship in Sierra’s life is with her childhood best friend Dan (played by RJ Cyler), who shows so much maturity by being supportive of his friend’s new life and doesn’t resort to the kind of pettiness we see in so many film or TV best friends. (“It’s like I don’t even know you anymore!!!” Ugh.)
Justice for Sharon: Actress Sharon Purser navigates through high school as an outcast in this Netflix movie.
It’s great to see a film like Sierra Burgess catered towards a younger audience, because it shows viewers that while love and romance matter, friendships do, too — if not more. This is what anyone will want to bring with beyond high school, beyond their teenage years, and beyond their first loves. After all, five great British philosophers once said, “If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends. Make it last forever, friendship never ends.”