Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Sneha Jaiswal (Twitter | Instagram)

Some people write sneaky secret notes to their crushes, and some choose to write saucy secret fan-fiction about the object of their desires; like school topper and ‘good Christian’ girl Laras in 2023 Netflix movie ‘Dear David’.

Directed by Lucky Kuswandi, written by Winnie Benjamin, Daud Sumolang and Muhammad Zaidy, the film stars Shenina Cinnamon as lead Laras, who is a scholarship student and writes erotic fantasy stories featuring her crush David on a private blog whenever she finds time. When someone leaks all the contents of the blog, her ‘Dear David’ stories go viral and even though nobody really knows who the writer is, things get complicated for Laras when David figures it out.

The central premise is interesting, especially since the makers show the fantasies in shiny neon sequences instead of simply having the protagonist read it out. So, the very first scene hilariously draws you in – Laras is dressed in revealing silver gown and is walking through tall grass in high heels until she finds something and starts to spy on it with opera glasses, a young well-built man in a lion’s mask bathing in a stream and then things get steamy.  

Laras isn’t a very likable character, but older viewers will have to remind themselves that these kids are still in their late teens. Shenina Cinnamon pulls of the part with panache, she switches from bitchy-sexy to lost and vulnerable with ease. Caitlin North Lewis was more fascinating as Dilla, Laras’ estranged best-friend who’s the school ‘slut’ courtesy some rumours and her risqué photos on social media. Emir Mahira is the titular David isn’t very impressionable, even though it’s his character that suffers the immediate consequences of becoming a sexual object in the fictional stories that go viral. The friendship between the two teen girls was bitter-sweet, poignant and far more believable than the few romantic sub-plots in the tale.

‘Dear David’ looks at how school authorities deal with instances like these, where student’s private blog/photos/videos are leaked. It seems like not a lot has changed since the 90s – teachers and authoritative figures still don’t understand that even the privacy of teens must be valued and protected. The film also has a slightly predictable love-triangle going on and the pace could’ve been a faster. The climax was a tad bit dramatic, but it hits a satisfactory crescendo – the protagonist gets to finally speak her mind out instead of scribbling things in secret.

It’s a 7/10 from me.  

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