People You May Know  is the feature debut of writer/director Sherwin Shilati. With Nick Thune, Halston Sage, Kaily Smith Westbrook, and Nicholas Rutherford. An introvert with no desire for social media becomes an online celebrity when he reinvents himself on the internet.
“If it weren’t for social media…” The past few years have started to see more films delve into ideas and stories revolving around social media, online presence, related relationships, and the everyday use of technology in general. It’s something that’s totally and horribly relatable, as it permeates every day of most of our lives. With People You May Know, Sherwin Shilati and fellow writer Michael Mohan tap into the usual motifs that all other like-minded films have touched upon before and still come away with something that feels fresh and worthwhile with character progressions and emotional beats that are unequivocally earned.
“You’ve just got to keep your perspective.” Jed is a freelance photo editor who works from home and is overall an introvert who has no online presence in any way. At an engagement party, he strikes up a conversation that ultimately leads him to give social media a try, posting a shopped image of him at the tables with Usher in Vegas. This image gets the attention of Tasha, a woman who decides to shape Jed’s online persona and presence in order to turn him into a phenomenon worthy of commercial promotions as an experiment for her online marketing job. Jed’s exciting faux lifestyle racks up the likes and followers, and he even uses his newfound popularity for good when he strikes up a Twitter war to help a struggling actor friend (Franky) from high school get an audition.
“Not everything we see online is true…” As things go along the story chooses to focus in on the individuals outside of whatever fun may be going on in the digital realm. This is a story that’s focused on relationships, desires, dreams, and how all of these things can be or are manipulated or skewed through social media. The writing and acting are brimming with integrity such that nothing feels absurd or out of place. These people feel real, and these circumstances don’t seem implausible. The way things progress and intersect keep the film void of lulls with any and all kinds of necessary energy propelling each act, each scene, and each moment to the next.
“…but how we treat each other is impossible to misinterpret.” This feels beyond some kind of indie feature debut in look and feel as well. The cinematography looks sharp, and there’s a playfulness with the kind of camera used and the way things are shot from time to time. The score and soundtrack are really great, and I can’t quite pinpoint what it is about them but I couldn’t help but consciously think about how much I was digging the music the whole time. The cast as a whole really nails it, and despite whatever issues these characters are going through you can’t help but like everyone. Really you can’t help but like everything about this film.