I can’t say it doesn’t get fairly predictable at a certain point, but for a movie coming from a production house notorious for its oversimplistic approach to thrillers, Dying for Fame does hold its own for a considerable chunk of its duration. There’s a rather levelheaded commentary on the side of the whole social media influencer debate that isn’t talked about as much as it needs to be. And the judgment flung toward the dark side of reporting comes on the side as you relish the loopy mystery it pulls you into.
Plot Synopsis: What Happens In The Film?
A reporter’s job at a media network that calls itself Hot Goss has no room for a moral compass. And thankfully, Anna doesn’t have one to begin with. There’s no stopping her from climbing that ladder when she’s wicked enough to catch a young influencer in a compromising state and post a juicy headline about it later. What someone like Anna will come to be about a decade later is embodied by her boss Lex, who insists on the total ruination of Juliet Jay, the girl you remember finding scared and witless in the first scene. Juliet’s Romeo-squad stalker has made it rather impossible for her to put her feet up. And the last thing she needed was a vicious tabloid reporter getting to know about the bots she bought to give people an appearance of popularity. So close to one of her theme galas, Juliet thought she could kill two birds with one stone when she tried to persuade Anna to cover her stalker story instead of going after her career. What Anna severely underestimates is how urgent the situation really is. She’d rather go on a rant about the insufferable narcissism that it takes to be an influencer to her friend or co-worker Artie than use her position to help a girl out. And when Anna’s article inevitably leads to Juliet’s loss of career, image, and emotional well-being, the influencer supposedly makes the extreme choice of taking a leap from the roof of her luxury hotel.
Who Is Stalking Anna?
It’s not just the severe backlash from the unfortunate domino effect that her article set off that bothers Anna. Somewhere deep down beneath that cold, steely surface, there’s an empathetic woman who’s drowning in guilt. Anna’s not one to hide behind her guilt. Even after the names she gets called and the way she gets trolled online, she’s brave enough to go up to Juliet’s grieving sister to offer her help and support. But at the end of the day, she can’t really shake the feeling that she’s the person whose blind obsession with making it big in her career has hurt someone so much that they ended up ending their life. She could’ve convinced herself that she didn’t make a wrong move by not taking Juliet’s stalker situation seriously if the stalker hadn’t shifted his focus to her. It’s when a dead rat and a piece of paper with the signature Romeo star symbol rattle her at her workplace that she starts to take the threat seriously. But the star-tattooed creep isn’t the type to stop at something like that. The more the stalking grows, both in frequency and the danger it poses, Anna’s filled with dread and regret over not taking Juliet seriously and making a royal mess of things that she must clean up if she wants to make it.
Why Does Anna Suspect Ryan?
A lifestyle and fashion influencer dating a fitness guru sounds like what a lot of people will call a match made in heaven, especially considering the fact that fans do tend to invest a lot of emotions in their social media “ships.” And that’s exactly what helped Ryan regain his fame, popularity, and sponsors after he’d almost screwed the pooch by being caught juicing. Now, ever since the first time Anna accidentally ran into Ryan at Juliet’s and saw the bruises on her legs, she’s been wondering if Juliet was hiding something as scary as abuse under the facade of social media wholesomeness. But the reporter’s focus was still set on the stalker, even more so after she saw a video DM from Juliet from the night of her death. Granted, Anna had a lot to gain if she could prove that Juliet’s death had some foul play involved. But you’ve got to admit that a person about to kill themselves wouldn’t sound the way Juliet did on that video. It doesn’t help the matter that Anna’s almost run over by a car in the parking lot, the blame of which she readily shifts to the stalker. But it’s when the stalker, who apparently goes by the name Holden, shows up at her place unannounced and spills the beans on something that shakes Anna to her core that she realizes that she’s been following the wrong thread all along. Holden claims to have been paid to stalk Juliet. And whoever went through the trouble of employing him also made it a point to make Juliet’s life a living hell by giving Holden a keycard to Juliet’s hotel room. Now, considering Anna’s just found out that Ryan’s substance abuse is not so much a history as it is a very real addiction he’s still struggling to manage, it’s no surprise that she wants to keep an eye on him. And a very unfortunate hookup with the same man only turns out to be a grave mistake that Anna’s made when Detective Nguyen calls her to fill her in on a significant discovery. The car that chased Anna in the parking lot belongs to none other than Ryan. Even though he reported it missing and claims to have had nothing to do with the whole ordeal, this new information and the vial of drugs Anna finds in his bag clearly paint him in a very bad light.
Who Killed Juliet Jay?
Dying for Fame makes some pretty astute observations. And when the thriller part of the deal isn’t taking center stage, the Lifetime thriller picks elements of societal relevance from the plot and allows it to take a bigger, more universal form. There’s no denying that there’s an antithetically dark side to the glimmering, bright life of an influencer. And while not holding the profession in high regard isn’t something that can be held against an individual, the likes of Anna are simply cruel. It could only be a wicked sense of jealousy that would make someone want to destroy a person’s life and justify something that extreme with their obnoxious prejudices. While Anna judges someone like Juliet for harboring the banality that it takes to live for likes and clicks, she’s not really all that different. Being a reporter working for a news website that thrives on attacking popularity, Anna’s success depends just as much on the clicks she gets on her gossip articles. Thankfully, there’s a silver lining in the unprecedented trouble that Anna has landed in. She’s attained self-actualization, something that her friend Artie’s unpredictable betrayal only fuels further. She’s no longer the person wielding the camera and the keyboard that decide a person’s fate. Instead, she’s had first-hand experience of how it feels to have a minor slip-up exaggerated in the name of journalism.
Anna’s determination now is not just about seeking justice for Juliet and her own redemption; it’s also to save her very life. Luckily, she’s quit the workspace that enables her toxicity. And she’s also opened her mind up, probably for the first time, to the possibilities the old her would’ve dismissed in a second. It’s the cops and the media’s frustrating indifference that compels her to look inward and see that she was the same not too long ago. She’d made the biggest mistake of her life when she didn’t believe Juliet’s very real fear. She’s not about to do the same with Holden, who, despite still coming off a tad on the unstable side, really seems to be telling the truth about a conspiracy being at play here.
With Holden’s keycard in her hand, Anna’s understandably terrified of walking into Juliet’s hotel when Meg calls her for help. Juliet’s big sister may be a lot of things, but a good liar is not one of them. It’s absolutely evident from the way Meg reacts that she’s just faked the whole thing. Holden didn’t attack her, and he certainly didn’t want to harm Anna so badly that Meg would have to push him down the flight of stairs and kill him. Even though Detective Nguyen couldn’t be more relieved that he’s found a convincing conclusion to the case, Anna’s only just joined the final dot. It was Meg all along, the jealous sister who didn’t mind riding the coattails of the genetically blessed Juliet and enjoying the perks of her fame but always held a grudge.
Dying for Fame‘s ending doesn’t simplify the issues that’d make someone like Meg go full-on homicidal. It was never just one thing. The Jay sisters had grown up poor. It mustn’t have been easy on Meg to put in all the work only to see her sister get all the recognition and love. In her own weird way, Meg did recognize the light that Juliet was in this hopeless world. But there was so much bitterness brewing within Meg that she couldn’t allow Juliet to take some time off and spoil all the work she’d put into the whole thing. By the time Meg realizes that Anna’s live-streamed her confession and people have seen her trying to kill Anna, she’s already too far gone to stop. Luckily, Anna proved to be far harder to kill than Meg’d thought. Anna had no idea what she was getting into when she clicked those pictures of Juliet’s low point at the bar’s restroom. But considering Juliet would’ve ended up wanting to quit the soul-sucking career someday anyway, chances are, she would’ve died at the hands of her sister even if Anna hadn’t ruined her reputation and kicked off the tragic chain of events. In the end, it’s Anna who comes out with a lesson and a chance to change the landscape of her life. It will start with a change of career, of course; she’s way too good a journalist to stick to the tabloids. But most importantly, the experience will bring forth a fundamental change in Anna. She’ll at least think twice before going ahead with an action that has a chance of hurting someone who doesn’t deserve to overpay for their trivial crimes.