Overcoming the Fear of Sharing Critical Thought

by Nadia Stern on April 16, 2020

When analyzing or discussing a film, I often worry that my ideas are invalid, or incorrect. Even though people won’t always agree with me, I’ve learned that it’s important to consider my thoughts and feelings on films to further understand what I like, or dislike, and why. By understanding this, I will have a greater understanding of my taste in film and more adept in critical thinking. I think this is a message that should be shared with young people: that even if your ideas are not shared by others, they are not always meant for other people. Sometimes they are just for you. I think encouraging young people to criticize film privately is the first step to encouraging them to publicize their work.

For people my age, it is nerve-racking to share ideas and personal opinions online because your one review suddenly defines your view of a movie permanently, to anyone who reads it. It’s also difficult to get rid of that little voice telling you that people will disagree with you and lose respect for you. The truth is, that might happen, but it doesn’t mean your opinion is invalid. After all, opinions should be debated. They aren’t facts; they are subjective, and that’s good! Movies don’t resonate in the same way with everyone. Depending on the time in your life, a movie might provide you with something valuable when it seems like fluff to someone else. Your ideas are still interesting and should be shared. Your ideas do not represent your whole identity; they are only a snapshot of your thoughts in a single moment in time.

If you’re a young person looking to write film reviews but you don’t know where to start, I’d recommend that you look at reviews of other movies—not of the film you’d like to review. It is often best to trust your own instincts and work with the raw feeling you immediately get from the movie. Then think about what in the movie or in your life might have caused you to see it that way. Next, write your opinions down and back them up with evidence from the movie, because that’s the best anyone can do.

Criticizing film is a great way to learn about movie-making, story-telling, and even yourself. I have found myself discovering or reaffirming my values after thinking critically about a movie that I felt strongly towards. If not that, then at least criticizing movies will help you the next time you have some free time, so you don’t waste it all looking for the perfect film to watch.