Review: Black Mirror S3E1 ‘Nosedive’

Exeposé Screen online (1 November 2016)

Ever uttered those pivotal words: “if it doesn’t get 11 likes, I’ll delete it”? If so, Nosedive is probably aimed at you. Don’t worry: it’s aimed at me too. In fact, let’s lump the whole of the Instagram generation in there. Gosh, imagine what we’d be like if this manic need for positive reinforcement leaked out into our actual real-life existence?!

I mean, a world where literally everything you do is publicly rated would be some kind of dystopia, right? It’s hardly surprising, then, that this is the world we’re chucked into at the launch of Black Mirror‘s third series. After all, dystopias are Charlie Brooker’s speciality. The only weird bit is that he didn’t think of this one earlier…

Co-written with Michael Schur and Rashida Jones and directed by Joe Wright, Nosediveimagines a world ruled by an app that allows users to rate everyone with whom they interact. You don’t just get ratings; you are a rating. Out of five. And this isn’t just ‘social’ media; this is life. Take Lacie (4.2). To secure her dream apartment, she has to reach 4.5. Snapping cute pictures of her coffee is helping her creep up the ranks… but being maid of honour for former-BFF Naomi (4.8) will definitely give her the boost she needs. Or so she thinks.

Something of a cross between the Stepford Wives and Teletubbyland, Lacie’s idyllic pastel existence doesn’t fool us for long. From practising manic laughs in the mirror to artfully nibbling a cookie only to spit it out again, it’s soon clear that her obsession with getting the numbers up has turned her into… well, a fake.

Bryce Dallas Howard is brilliant, giving a mesmerising performance of Lacie’s swinging between insecurity and nauseating superiority – and while Alice Eve is viciously perfect as ‘It Girl’ Naomi, James Norton is the voice everyone wants to hear as Lacie’s brother Ryan (3.7). Top life tip, guys: if you’re in a speculative fiction Netflix episode and your charmingly down-to-earth brother doesn’t approve of what you’re up to, you should probably re-evaluate.

Of course, we know Lacie’s story can’t end well. In true Black Mirror style, you don’t have to dig deep for the satirical message – but that doesn’t make it any less disorientating when things do go wrong. As Lacie becomes trapped in a downwards spiral, we desperately want her to make the wedding and shoot back up in the ranks. Sure, it’s superficial and silly and destroying her life… but shit, it’s better than being a 2.6, right?!

As usual, Brooker’s disturbingly real characters and situations get us all in a tizz. We could be Lacie. Maybe not Naomi – it was no surprise when she turned out to be a bitch – but Lacie, sure. Brooker’s essentially taken all our social media habits, rolled them up into one big dystopian blob and satirically presented it to us as the perfect manufactured existence. It’s like we’ve fallen headfirst into one of those suspiciously-perfect Instagram feeds. You know, the ones you scoff at but secretly spend hours scrolling through, up to your eyeballs in envy…

But it wouldn’t be Black Mirror if it didn’t leave us questioning our values, judgement and entire existence. So five stars for you, Nosedive. #Likeforlike?

>>View original Exeposé Screen review>>

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