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SXSW (At Home): 'TFW no GF' Review

Movie Reviews

SXSW (At Home): ‘TFW no GF’ Review

Director Alex Lee Moyer uses a meme to learn about our society.

AIPT will continue some of its planned coverage of SXSW. We have been in contact with creators and their representatives in order to continue to give films coverage. We will respect all embargoes and work to give these films and our readers the coverage we had planned.

The internet meme is a ubiquitous part of today’s society. Some have gone on to last for years. They are immediately recognizable even if their meaning is not commonly known. Wojak or “feels guy” is one of those inventions of Internet subculture that is still widely used today. Though he has gone through many changes over the years, the drawing has a very specific meaning to many.

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TFW No GF  (that feel when no girlfriend) is an interesting documentary that follows four young men. They are lonely, frustrated, and live vicariously through various message boards. The four are a the film’s way of looking deeper into the years old meme. Along the way, director Alex Lee Moyer also poses the question what happened and why?

By letting her four subjects narrate the film, there is no opposing viewpoint. The difficulty lies in the stereotypical attitudes of the self described NEETs (Not in Education, Employment, or Training). They are pseudo philosophers who repeat the standard edge lord lines (“Guns don’t kill people. Middle school psychiatrists do.”) Listening to them is frustrating.

This is where Moyer’s excellent direction comes to play. What is at first annoying and sad becomes enlightening, pitiful, and at times, scary. The more the men talk, the more they reveal about themselves. For all their talk about being in on a joke no one else gets, they realize their lives can be better. By letting them tell their stories, Moyer succeeds in making the men interesting.

SXSW (At Home): 'TFW no GF' Review

It would seem, the men depicted should be a joke. They constantly use words with at least three syllables in an attempt to explain why Donald Trump’s election was inevitable and alternate between talking about how they do not want a girlfriend and complaining about being lonely. Instead. Moyer uses great photography interspersed with Tweets and memes to build their characters. You may not like the men, but you will definitely have a better understanding of why they do certain things.

The documentary also has a great soundtrack. TFW No GF has a fast paced soundtrack that fits the different tweets and memes it shows. During the more introspective moments, the music slows down heightening the moments. The score uses everything from electronic beats to guitar driven punk to convey its mood. Most documentaries use music to accentuate emotion; here it is used to highlight a time.

TFW No GF takes a look at a certain segment of the Internet subculture that not everyone wants to see. Words like “incel” are thrown around so much they risk losing meaning. In her directorial debut, Alex Lee Moyer uses a meme to explore the feelings associated with these men. The people she speaks with can be hard to listen to, but that is part of the journey. TFW No GF is examines modern society through the four men.

SXSW (At Home): 'TFW no GF' Review
Is it good?
The documentary has moments of fear and frustration, but that is part of the story in its deep dive into a much talked about subculture.
Fantastic soundtrack
Excellent direction for Moyer
It is part of the narrative, but the subjects are very hard to listen to

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