Nerve movie full length review - Singing another's song can be fun, but the fame it brings is temporary
Like old-time story tellers, Nerve film makers want to share messages (morals) with movie goers. They spent $20,000,000 to do it. What were those messages?
Message #1: Be real or live a compromised life Venus > "Vee" Delmonico (Emma Roberts) mother Nancy (Juliette Lewis) desperately wants Vee to stay with her which means Vee cannot attend Arts School, but Vee doesn't make this truth known in an effort to please her mother. The Moral: If you are not willing to let your truth be known, you will lead a compromised life.
Message #2: Find out if they like you too > Vee is secretly in love with J.P. (Brian Marc). Later in the film, J.P. reveals that Vee is "not his type". Morale: If you are in love, find out if it is mutual or not. If not, move on. If it is, develop.
Message #3: When someone dies, love them by living > Vee's brother tragically died a few years earlier. Vee's mother has left his room as a shrine. Grief is a crippling emotion and holding onto the pain is a way many people honor those who have passed. Moral: People who love us would not want to see us pain and they would want us to progress with our lives (when the time is right).
Message #4: Fame is temporary > Sydney (Emily Meade) completes a dare at school and gains temporary fame. Moral: Action for external reward (fame) brings temporary feelings. Doing what you love just to be you brings lasting satisfaction
Message #5: What we know attracts us > Ian (Dave Franco) is a diner reading Vee's favorite book, Virginia Woolf's "To The Lighthouse". Vee has to pick someone to kiss for 5 seconds, and she is drawn to Ian because of the book. Moral: The familiar is safe and a powerful magnet for our attention.
Message #6: No benefit without a cost > Vee kisses Ian (a stranger) for 5 seconds and gets the biggest rush of her life in the process, as well as $100. Moral: The benefit of excitement often comes at an unknown cost. There is always balance in life.
Message #7: Don't overpower or dis-empower others > Tommy (Miles Heizer) who drove Vee to the diner where she kissed Ian is secretly in love with Vee. Tommy gets jealous when Ian wants Vee to go with him on another dare. Vee initially doesn't want to do it but agrees to go because Tommy took away her choice "Vee doesn't want to go". Moral: Telling a person to "not walk on the grass" maybe the fastest way to get that grass trampled underfoot.
Message #8: Looking good is transformative > Vee has a dare to try on a very expensive couture dress. She does so and she looks amazing. The clothes transform her. Moral: Changing how you dress transforms how others view you.
Message #9: Do it for internal not external reasons > Syd is playing Nerve to gain fame and stardom (external reasons). Vee is doing it for internal reasons (she wants to break away from compromised life). Syd sees Vee gaining in popularity and gets concerned then jealous. When Vee exceeds Syd's status, Syd melts down. Moral: Do it for internal reasons and whatever your outcome you keep the rewards.
Message #10: From excited volunteer to compliant prisoner > Nerve is a simple game. Do increasingly dangerous things for double the money each time. If you lose, you lose everything. What starts as an exciting dare quickly turns into compliance then imprisonment. In many ways gambling follows the same course - start small, win a little, bet bigger, win bigger, until you lose (your relationship, your home, your job, etc). Drugs follows a similar line. Moral: Things that start small but grow quickly are very hard to control, for anyone. If something feels wrong, it probably is.
Message #11: Anonymous crowds want blood. Identified people want out. > A conceptually powerful scene where watchers vote on if Vee should die (be shot) to create a winner. The majority wants Vee to be shot dead by Ty (Machine Gun Kelly). Ty shoots Vee to become the winner of Nerve. Vee's friend Tommy has been busy hacking Nerve's network and turns on the identities of all anonymous users leaving them a message "You are an accessory to murder. Quit Nerve?" Now exposed, the now identified watchers turn off Nerve en-mass. Moral: Personally accountable people are mindful of their actions. Anonymous people are happy to see others suffer. Cyber- bullying, flame wars and a large number of online behaviors are explained by this idea.
Message #12: Only one life, live it authentically > Vee starts living the life she wants by accepting her study placement. It shows her and her friends happy and progressing with their lives too. Moral: The time we have in this world is short, use it to create the meaning you wish - but do it for you own internal reasons (not fame, etc) if you want to be satisfied/happy with the life you create.
There are many more messages in Nerve, I hope you have found these of interest. Take care and I look forward to sharing more in my next review.
Ken Standfield is an avid film watcher having watched tens of thousands of films over many decades. He seeks to find meaning and morals in films rather than analyze plot lines. Films are today's fairy tales, finding the morals of the story is not only fun, it can help you live a more meaningful and happier life.