• Sebastian Mann

Liza Anonymous (2021) Review

Image of Liza in Liza Anonymous

A young woman strangely eager to fit in tries to work out who she is and find a personality that fits in director Aubrey Smyth’s snappy, satirical short film.

It can be a tough thing, fitting in. Liza (Danielle Beckman) certainly struggles with it. At first, we’re not quite sure what she’s even like, as we see in a sharply edited montage that she’s got a whole host of personas, telling the same story in different mannerisms (from a well-meaning church-goer to a rough-talking Mexican girl with a strong accent) to different support groups - not so much a case of mistaken identity as it is loneliness in disguise.

Writer Leah McKendrick’s script never dismisses Liza as just a support group junkie, though, instead treating her as well-meaning but painfully wrong-footed. Everyone listens to her regale her stories, and that’s exactly what she wants. As she cycles through class (and race), she can form a sense of security around herself. Until Milton (Daniel Fox) sees through it.

Tracking her from one support group to another, he begins to unravel who she is (or who she might actually be), confronting her in a bathroom as she hurriedly tries to find the fake neck tattoo she’s forgotten to wear.

Smyth’s direction is slick and vibrant

Beckman is great as the eponymously mercurial Liza, gleefully bouncing between ear-scraping accents with a vulnerable shakiness. There’s a sadness to her character, a relatable feeling of being cast adrift.

The two balance out well: it never feels obvious, taking a fresh approach to a widely discussed topic without sacrificing laughs for cheap moralising. Smyth’s direction is slick and vibrant - the camera glides around Liza, as if wrapping her tighter in her web of deceit until it can’t go on any longer.