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The life of a popstar is a mixed bag it seems, with international fame being double-edged at best. Boybands are an especially easy target for such, manufactured groups designed entirely around being a product rather than an art form, gaining legions of diehard fans who come to see them for much more than their music. A majority of these fans are, naturally, young girls in an important emotional-development stage and are harmless, adoring from a safe distance, enjoying the boys and their songs for what they are. A few others though become highly-invested in the lives of the band members and the lyrics they sing, often taking things to an extremely personal level. It’s dangerous and sadly, a little too common.
Andi Osho‘s Amber is a short film that works on that theme, centering on a young girl, an almost fifteen-year-old Amber (Cat Van Dort) who is obsessed with a boyband named One Summer, a clear reference to real life group One Direction. She is so taken by their music and lifestyles, she writes fanfiction about them and posts online, to which she has many readers. Most of these stories focus on Charlie Love (Will Finlason), whom she has an emotional and sexual crush. All that is fine and good until Charlie announces that, after five years in the band, he’s going solo. it sends a ripple through the cosmos it seems, breaking the hearts of many fans, but of course, particularly Amber, who decides to go to extreme lengths to stop him from doing so.
Written and directed by Osho, the story is a guessing game of sorts as it shifts early to a police station where a slightly injured Amber is being questioned by police, her mother sitting beside her in distress. What follows is a dreamy sequence where we see and hear at least two possible outcomes, clearly one meant to be a hyper-reality and one a vision of Amber’s hopes, though in truth it is all meant to be skeptical. It appears Amber broke into Charlie’s home in the middle of the night and not only does it suggest a troubling situation but also something even more so that might have happened earlier. But is any of it real?
Osho seems intent on keeping that ambiguous, and it serves the narrative well, the complex and frightening relationship that Amber has created with Charlie one that we realize may not even need truth to be scary. She is clearly obsessed but delusional as well and we see hints on her skin that she is suffering from a painful past. So what is the message, if any, that Osho is pressing for? It would seem the easy path is that Amber (representing many like her) needs to break from her fantasy and regain her life, but there is a stinging sense that maybe the real takeaway is a shot at the industry itself, one that props up fakery and misdirection to lull young girls and fans into this trap. Charlie himself has an eye-opening confession about the business that strikes hard.
Either way, the film is well-made and earnest with some solid performances and good direction. Osho makes use of archival footage of older bands and their rabid fans, lending some real authenticity to the film, blurring the line between when reality meets fiction. We all grow up with a crush or a ‘thing’ we identify with, helping us find who we are or at least guide us through a time when we are quite sure. Osho paints a disturbing picture of how that can all go wrong.
Director(s): Andi Osho
Actor(s): Cat Van Dort, Will Finlason
Genre: Thriller, Short