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The first feature film directed by Brittany Show (known for her works like “Pitch Perfect” films and “Hairspray”) titled Parachute is an eye-opener. The movie portrays the struggle of two young people who are transitioning from one stage in life to another. Riley, Courtney Eaton of Yellowjackets fame, is a charming lady with an eating disorder and body image issues. And Ethan, Thomas Mann, a musician-to-be who is just as emotionally intense as Riley. All of this ends on the day when they meet each other; Riley got out of rehab while Ethan was released from jail. What could go wrong?

Parachute contains a powerful scene where Ethan tells Riley “I have no idea what you’re looking at when you look in the mirror.” Earlier on, we the audience have experienced what she sees in the mirror within herself. We don’t actually see him but we get it based on her actions towards her own reflection that she doesn’t even see herself either. It’s been difficult for most of us today to view any self-presentation without undergoing some changing self-esteem along with celebrated social media posts showcasing “perfect” bodies and ageless faces making us try so much harder than before to be good-looking.

This distorted understanding of “self” has become part of Riley’s identity. Brittany Snow as filmmaker has brought up this topic very well using her own experience about it early in her career. First off, there’s Riley’s life over several years dealing with body image problems; next there’s Ethan – they immediately bond and set themselves up for more heartaches since they are both walking around wounded inside. With Ethan it all comes down to dependency issues and codependency— he can never quite seem alone unless he uses someone else as a crutch or scapegoat for his actions.

At first they become friends but this eventually balloons into something else which obviously affects Ethan more than anything else. But she does love him as a friend. This asymmetrical situation provides an interesting framework for the film, making the audience wonder what will happen next.

Meanwhile, Riley is pretending because Dr. Akerman (Gina Rodriguez of Jane the Virgin) tells her to go on self-discovery exercises, attend 12-step programs or whatever else. Freefalling is so much fun in life isn’t it? For most of the film, Riley’s mother (Mle Chester) is missing but her fashionable apartment serves as a good base for when she crashes and burns. At the same time, Casey (Francesca Reale), Riley’s BFF, tries to help cushion some of her friend’s behaviors that are often too manic.

It’s Ethan, the good guy that can clean up some of the emotional messes, his cross to bear. His roommate Justin (Scott Mescudi/Kid Cudi) is the only other glimmer in Ethan’s dark family portrayal. A moment arrives where he and Riley relate more deeply emotionally and an opportunity for greater intimacy presents itself. This is a very big deal for Riley. Trust and physical intimacy? What a strange concept it is. The girl cannot help breaking up with her boyfriend before rehab.

Snow managed to get many famous actors to play guest roles which brought levity into this film project. Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy), in addition to Rodriguez and Mescudi stands out as the affable host of a murder-mystery club where Riley works at. Joel McHale (Community) makes an appearance as a character that significantly contextualizes the story.

All in all, there are raw, honest and vulnerable situations between Riley and Ethan. For Riley, loving herself is always going to be a fight every day. It’s hard for Ethan too – he loves everyone else better than himself. And then at one point someone from Riley’s circle calls her on her own B.S., giving us an idea of what it feels like being on the receiving end of somebody’s else extremely convoluted “ism.”

Brittany Snow approaches everything here like a seasoned filmmaker would do it already. Not once does this movie become preachy or sentimental at any point in time . No way! It throngs! The film has such tender hold on how complicated we can be inside as people who mean well most times.Eaton and Mann capture our attention, with Eaton especially turning in a heart-wrenching performance.In terms of captivating leads, excellent grip on the subject matter and quiet indie film feel Parachute has got this down pat.

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