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She Looks Like Me: SXSW Film Review

Two photographs of two young girls who look like one another side by side in the film She Looks Like Me

Through exquisite directing, Torquil Jones’ She Looks Like Me unveils the inspiring lives of two women who share an unforeseen secret.

If you are unfamiliar with Jen Bricker and Dominique Moceanu’s story, I urge you to seek out She Looks Like Me the minute it becomes readily available. I also want to avoid revealing the surprising secret in the documentary, as your viewing experience will be even more impactful if you go into the film without prior knowledge of the two women involved. I will share that She Looks Like Me is an inspiring true story and a testament to an individual’s hopefulness, determination, and the unspoken bonds between siblings.

After being born without legs due to a genetic defect, Bricker was abandoned by her biological parents at the hospital. Adopted by Sharon and Gerald from a young age, Bricker was raised in a loving household with her three older brothers. Growing up, she idolized American gymnast Dominique Moceanu, who, in 1996, won gold at the Atlanta Olympics. Bricker would go on to become a successful motivational speaker and acrobat, even performing alongside Britney Spears on tour. Elsewhere, Moceanu’s advocacy against institutional abuse lead to women speaking out about Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse. During Bricker’s childhood, she asked Sharon and Gerald about the identity of her biological parents, uncovering an astonishing revelation involving her and Moceanu, the girl she had admired for many years.

Award-winning director Torquil Jones is no stranger to the documentary genre. With an eye for detail and immersive storytelling, his talent is fully displayed in this gripping film. Jones’ creative and blended visual techniques, accompanied by Ian Grech’s flawless editing, unravel Bricker and Moceanu’s beautiful stories. It’s an inspiring journey of success, advocacy, and family bonds.

Though She Looks Like Me explores both Bricker and Moceanu’s lives throughout the documentary’s runtime, no element feels rushed. Every moment spent with both in an intimate setting is wholehearted and absorbing. The back-and-forth commentary transitions smoothly and never feels disjointed or jarring, showcasing Jones’ masterful handling of the material. We witness many one-on-one interviews with Bricker, Moceanu, and their family members, giving viewers a well-rounded portrayal of each subject. Seeing the pair in their day-to-day lives and observing the love and closeness within their families adds rawness to the narrative and is a moving watch.

Two photographs of two young girls who look like one another side by side in the film She Looks Like Me
She Looks Like Me (SXSW 2024)

Most of the story is presented linearly, reflecting both women’s upbringing, remarkable achievements, and what led to them becoming acquainted. Unlike some documentary reenactments that feel unnecessary and unrealistic, those included in She Looks Like Me add a lot of perspective to the narrative. In addition, archived footage demonstrates authenticity, allowing viewers to feel the siblings’ emotions during pivotal moments throughout their lives.

Though Jones’ stellar direction brings She Looks Like Me to life, what makes the documentary so compelling is a unique and inspiring story meant to be shared with the world. Bricker and Moceanu’s determination and advocacy are a joy to witness, and the pair prove that anything is attainable if you put your mind to it. What the two have achieved throughout their lives is truly remarkable, and even if the documentary’s subject material isn’t relatable, Brecker and Moceanu’s unwavering ambition and unforeseen connection to one another is a fascinating revelation.

If you’re anything like me, you might want to invest in some tissues for this one because She Looks Like Me will have you sobbing by the film’s end. However, the documentary’s beautiful portrayal of sibling bonds and its celebration of individuality, unconditional family love, and women’s empowerment make it deserving of the time investment and my favorite film of SXSW so far.

She Looks Like Me will be screened at SXSW on March 11-14, 2024. Read our SXSW reviews and our list of films to watch at SXSW 2024!

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