Written and directed by star Yuyu Kitamura, Annie (Kitamura) realizes mid pandemic how isolated she has been her whole life. She pushes herself out of her comfort zone as she makes her first real friend through social media with Emmy until Annie is exposed to how artificial friendships can be. Also starring: Clara Kim, Jocelyn Landes and Haley Wong.
Yuyu Kitamura asks a hugely relevant question with this film and it’s how genuine social media influencers are, when you know that their goal is good content, can you trust that it’s honest? Some people love to watch people in twenty minute YouTube videos dissecting moments of their lives or recent purchases, whereas others are sceptical of the influencer lifestyle and personality type. The story works extremely well, it’s perhaps a touch long but still keeps a good pace. Annie is extremely relatable, exploring the difficulties in making friends in the isolated world of technology. It then dives into the difference between public and private personas, and is another example of how important a simple human connection can be. It’s of course a much larger concern after the past couple years, and highlights the idea of having a million different people available at the touch of a button, doesn’t mean you won’t feel alone. It’s extremely accessible but there’s also a clever, almost slick edge to Kitamura’s writing, using a healthy dose of irony.
Using a lot of your directorial perspective from devices can be tricky to pull off, as it can feel restrictive but here, it works well. It’s edited together to keep things moving, it never stays still too long to keep things from feeling claustrophobic or stilted. The style is undoubtedly modern but it also feels grounded, the tone of its visual reflects Annie’s experience, and brings you the story through her eyes. There are a few moments where it kicks things up a notch and adds a little tension to drive the story to the finish line. It feeds directly into the theme of those who know how to play the game, how to manipulate and how to put forth what people want to see.
Yuyu Kitamura does a fantastic job of making Annie feel so naïve and trusting but never making her feel juvenile, she’s intelligent and capable but her loneliness is her kryptonite. Watching the story from her perspective, she provides a very sympathetic persona, she’s easy to watch and even easier to root for her to find a friend. Haley Wong as influencer Emmy is similarly great, she really taps into the typical influencer type, the overly animated and positive words and body language. The over-empathetic and emphatic nature to pull in everyone and make them feel seen, it’s deceptive but in a much more socially acceptable manner.
Invited In is a clever and intensely relevant look at the influencer persona, how much is real and how much is contrived for likes. It’s a question doubtless many people have asked when viewing one Instagram, TikTok or YouTube profile with a huge following, but it’s a story that still feels fresh. Its immediate façade is fairly simple but there’s layers working in the background that appear as time goes on, which is a satisfying journey to watch. It could be a tad shorter and speed up a little but it’s a well put together short, that’s creative and entertaining.