A profoundly unusual true crime tale, The Girl Who Became Three Boys wallows in themes of deceit, betrayal and sexual confusion. Elements of the story play like absurd tabloid fodder, but the underlying pathology behind these crimes create a deeper and more resonant portrait.
At the center of this story is Gemma Barker. In 2009, when she was just 18, she befriended two girls who were both younger - Jessica and Alice. By all outside appearances, the three-way friendship seemed perfectly normal in spite of their slight age differences. But things soon got weird.
Gemma assumed the fictionalized identities of three boys, and employed them to seduce her two under-aged friends. The anonymity of social media made it possible for her to perpetuate and embellish these personalities; make contact with her prey, deepen her connection with them, and create a vital online existence that was merely smoke and mirrors.
Both relationships evolved from online platforms to face-to-face encounters. Neither girl suspected that they were being seduced and deceived by their mutual friend. Gemma gained their acceptance by assuming disguises, and distinct personalities which were devised to appeal to each girlќs interests. Even the writing style of her texts was believably altered from one personality to the next.
Eventually, Gemma's charade was uncovered, and resulted in a 30-month prison sentence for fraud and assault.
Throughout the film, the two victims (one of which is cloaked in darkness to protect to her true identity) detail every jaw-dropping twist and turn of their courtships. The experience has left both angered and saddened at their betrayal, and questioning the depths of their gullibility. Additional insights are provided by other classmates who grew close to the "real" Gemma during this time, as well as reporters who followed the aftermath of her unusual crimes with baited breath. Through it all, there is Gemma, a figure who only grows more enigmatic the more you learn of her.
Part salacious, part tragic, and always fascinating, The Girl Who Became Three Boys is essential viewing for fans who enjoy their true crime stories with more than a touch of the bizarre.
Directed by: Norman Hull