Review: TikTok, Boom. (#Sundance2022)

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TIKTOK, BOOM. (#SUNDANCE2022) 

Much like its subject, TikTok, Boom. is an overwhelming grab bag of topics that result in a well-intentioned, but minimally impactful documentary.

Filmmaker Shalini Kantayya tackles one of the fastest growing and most influential social media platforms, TikTok, in a dissection of the many arms of the app’s impacts and where it goes from here. TikTok, Boom. has a lot of great information in it, particularly in terms of background that will help viewers get up to speed on where this phenomenon came from and, if you’re unfamiliar with it, how it operates. Kantayya takes a look at the technical aspects of how videos are distributed through the platform by first looking at those influencers who use it, often building substantial (and lucrative) followings). But where the film begins to falter is in its attempts to make sense of the cultural impacts TikTok has had, leading to political pressures and negative publicity, that overshadows the personal stories and emotional impacts it began with. Where this could have been a highly informative piece of film, we’re instead left with a number of loose ends that ultimately will have to be resolved by viewers doing their own research.

Still, the conversations with users and use of both TikTok videos and other forms of media to tell the story are impressive from a documentary filmmaking standpoint. TikTok, Boom. is a solid primer on the turmoil surrounding the Chinese-owned app since its rebranding and widening use years ago to today. You’re simply left wanting more.

Rating: 3/5

Photo from Sundance

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