Sissy REVIEW – The Dark Side of Sisterhood | SXSW 2022

A best friend scorned is more dangerous than you know.


We all remember the first best friend we ever had. Maybe it was during recess where you hit it off, or during a long bus ride home, regardless, it’s the most wonderful feeling in the world – to feel seen, to be someone’s person. But friendships at any age are subject to a certain volatility – either we are replaced by someone else, or something triggers a falling out, and the friendship ends. This is especially so when we are young and impressionable, and it’s easy to drop friends when someone better comes along.

This is what happened between Cecelia (Aisha Dee) and Emma (Hannah Barlow). They made pledges of eternal friendship, only for all that to come abruptly to an end when Alex (Emily De Margheriti) supplants Cecelia as Emma’s new best friend. Years later, they reconnect at a supermarket, and while Emma’s so excited to see her again, Cecelia’s a little more guarded – after all, Emma did stop being her friend all those years ago. Still, she decides to show up for Emma’s engagement party, mainly because she’s lonely. She may have a thriving business as an influencer, but this doesn’t amount to actually having any real friends in her life. Her videos are meant to inspire people to see that they are enough, yet her house is a mess and she doesn’t seem to really take care of herself.

But things start to click at the party. Emma’s keen to hang out with her and looks at their reconnection as some kind of kismet. It’s heartbreaking to see Cecelia have so much fun at the party and to be invited for Emma’s hen’s weekend, only for all this to come to a screeching halt when she realises that Alex is also going to show up. We know things aren’t going to be pretty, considering the amount of dead animals we encounter along the way.

Sissy has the same energy as the recent film All My Friends Hate Me, where Cecelia’s social anxiety starts to escalate the more time she spends with Emma and her friends. The moment Alex comes into the picture again, she becomes invisible, not only that, they scoff at her choice of career and question the ethics of being a self-help guru without any proper qualifications.

Dee’s performance as Cecelia is perfection – there’s this aura of innocence that she exudes, with a simple desire of wanting to be liked for who she is, but she’s also able to slip into madness when the occasion calls for it. We find ourselves sympathizing with her, because no one wants to bear the weight of being a social outcast, on the other hand, she’s clearly got issues. As things spiral out of control, and the movie’s pink hues move to a darker red, we find ourselves witnessing some pretty chilling moments of body horror, and the film cleverly draws parallel between later events and earlier moments of the film.

It’s just really sad that all Cecelia has in her life is her social media. She looks at it as a lifeline, but in reality it’s just a crutch for her, and as she emotionally feeds herself with all the validation she gets online, this caused her to suppress those childhood demons instead of exorcising them from herself. All this chaos could have been prevented if she just accepted that Emma wasn’t a good friend back then, and that she would have nothing to offer her now.

Some childhood pledges are best left in the dust of time.

Review screener provided.

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Wonderfully madcap and unhinged, Sissy takes you into the darker spaces of female friendships.