Netflix original, “You Get Me”: Light on drama, heavy on music


Just in time for summer 2017, Netflix presents a stalker-thriller for teens. “You Get Me,” is full of thriller archetypes that make the film more parody than thriller. However, its one strong point is the music—the songs “Lethal Weapon” by Steve Z, and “Stranger Than Earth” by Purity Ring are heavy on beats, hooks and atmosphere.

“You Get Me” and the making of American classics

Even without the category labels provided by Netflix, it is obvious “You Get Me” is a teen drama. The movie over-relies on scenic views and teen movie tropes and perhaps unwittingly, begins to mock itself. “You Get Me” is based on the same formula that made “Fatal Attraction” successful. But with teenagers, a love triangle has few unpredictable moments.

When it comes to movies, there is a contingent of Americans who will never cease to be fascinated with California. Its scenic desert regions, scenic mountain vistas and beautiful people equal to the best America has to offer, according to some. With that in mind, that is where the beautiful, if vacant, “You Get Me” is set. The camera sweeps could make viewers dizzy. Some of the shots are randomly aerial—looking down on characters’ heads, so that audiences get stunning views of parts and roots.

All houses except for the male lead’s, look as though they have been created for “Dwell” magazine. The houses are sprawling cement and glass creations in shades of beige and white. They are perfectly situated and do not look lived in, at least they do not look as if teenagers live in them. Maybe that is part of the point. A few minutes into the movie, it is clear (or should be) that the filmmakers are selling a fantasy, an ideal world in which teens can look, act and live the way they want.

“You Get Me,” technology and an absence of humanity

When telephone technology was new, moviegoers began seeing it replicated onscreen. The same thing happens in “You Get Me” with texting. Audiences are privy to characters’ texts and missed calls. The notifications are announced with realistic beeps, and then the messages appear.  Particularly telling in this teen-centric world, parents only call, they never text, and only two parents ever speak onscreen. Even when the male lead is suspended “indefinitely” from school based on a lie told by his stalker, neither of his parents appears. No one questions why he is home from school.

The near-absence of other people make it seem as if Ali, Tyler, Holly and their two friends live in their own world. The film does a somewhat admirable job of inclusion—black students are seen in the background in both the school scenes and the club scene, and Lydia, one of Tyler’s and Ali’s friends, is Asian and lesbian.

“Lethal Weapon”

When people do connect, music plays. That is particularly noticeable when Tyler and Holly hook up and go to a club. In the club scene, audiences are treated to “Lethal Weapon” by Steve Z. The pounding bass is augmented by electronica keyboards that sound as if they are whirring machine parts, about to break off. The song breaks down into bass and percussion, making it perfect for dancing. This is the music viewers hear when Holly kisses Tyler and tries to slip a tiny yellow pill in his mouth. He questions it, and ultimately caves. The hypnotic sound of the music could be how he hears things after taking the pill. The song is worth listening to from a streaming service if an individual opts to skip the movie.

“Stranger Than Earth”

 “Stranger Than Earth” by Purity Ring uses a bass line that reminds me of Afrika Bambaataa and the Soul Sonic Force, and any number of early 1980s rap groups. Soft, feminine vocals singing independent-minded vocals, play up the complexity of the mind of a teen girl. This song plays at the end, and I couldn’t help but wonder which female character this song could be the theme for. Probably Holly, which endows the song with a melancholy, world-weary air.

It isn’t always true that music makes the movie, but in the case of “You Get Me,” the music certainly helps. Every generation has a movie that sets out to illustrate what it’s like to be young during a given decade. Not all of those movies achieve their goals. It is up to viewers if this one does or not.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here