Robin Solsjö Höglund’s review published on Letterboxd:
A two-part documentary on HBO Max about Michelle Carter (who looks more than a little like Cara Delevingne - there, I said it), a 17-year old who supposedly convinced her boyfriend Conrad Roy III, to kill himself through texts and phone calls. Was she guilty of murder or not?
This is an interesting one because we are on thin ice - if you commit an act encouraged by someone else, are they responsible? If you tell me to go rob a bank and I do, should you go to jail for robbery? When we say it like that, I think most of us go "of course not, that's ludicrous". But when you factor in the fragile mental state of two teenagers and a young woman we can demonize.. it tips pretty quickly. I actually found myself as a viewer wavering back and forth which is worrisome. The real truth is they were both in need of very serious mental help. They were both medicated, troubled, lonely, and both had attempted suicide and showed intense signs of suicidal ideation. The way I see it, that means now it's the final chance to get her some actual help. The scourge isn't manipulation and murder, it's the mental health of teenagers in general.
It's a very engaging documentary because it successfully juggles us emotionally and mentally throughout, we hear both sides of the case, we see some of their text conversations and the rug is pulled out more than once. I do think that it is ultimately just a tragedy - they were both troubled and they could've honestly gone through with a suicide pact. Our social media age biases are an echo chamber of poison that will paint either her as a sociopathic manipulator or him as thoroughly and utterly suicidal and the truth is more complicated than that. The ultimate lesson we need to draw is that we have to back away sometimes, and when our emotions grab us too heavily in conviction, maybe we need to step back, cool off and analyze ourselves as much as anything - why did I come to that conclusion? Could there be more to this I'm not seeing? Why does it help me to demonize either one?
Watch it, think on it, discuss it. If someone you know is caught in a world of their own thoughts and screens, if you know teenagers just locked into hopelessness, be there for them in a way that really matters. Pull them outside, try to find a social gathering place for them outside of school. And don't hesitate to have them talk to someone or call someone if things feel difficult and hopeless. My point is Michelle and Conrad were in their bubbles and we are in ours.