The biggest weakness in this film is the actual throughline of a story. Quite honestly, there isn't one. Of all the characters in the film, only two of them have names; Alyssa and Elizabeth. The rest of the girls play pivotal roles in the film but are titled "The Sidekick," "The Performer," and "The Angst." The little brother of Alyssa's character is named Joseph, but he's a tertiary character at best. If the film had chosen to follow one of these three girls for the entire film, it would have been much easier to follow and would have easily become a better film for the majority of audiences. Yet, I don't think Ryan wanted to make a movie that would be easily accessible.
By following the three girls, we see three very different and somehow very alike situations that cause teenage girls to walk down a path of self-destruction. Alyssa and her friend "The Sidekick" are often cutting, having bathroom photoshoots with Alice Cooper-esque makeup, mimicking guns to their head with their fingers, cutting their wrists, and cursing each other out. At no time do these girls ever show the stereotypical signs of depression, it's almost like they're doing these things for fun. Then we see the "performer" who is also a wrist cutter and may or may not have a very unhealthy relationship with what appears to be a foster father...a relationship that is not mutual or consensual. Finally, we see "The Angst," a bulimic girl who often saves her vomit and cuts her wrists. This one is shown to be sexually abused by her father and her story is without a doubt the most difficult to watch. This actress looked to actually suffer from an eating disorder due to the emaciation of her body and her effortless portrayal of self-induced vomiting. Watching her story was heartbreaking. Although the lens was focused predominately on Alyssa, it was "The Angst" that just ripped my heart out.
These three girls are very complex creatures and by showcasing all of them, the real "message" of the film gets muddied. I still battle with whether or not these were separate girls, or if the unnamed characters were just physical manifestations of the different aspects of Alyssa's personality that helped "explain" why she killed Elizabeth Olten. Some moments of the film left me completely unsure of what I was looking at (for example, the Performer has a full length music video in a foreign language) but its strangeness is also what compelled me to keep watching. None of the characters have any real relationships developed between one another which makes the film a lot less impacting than it could be, but the lack of relationship seems to make a lot of sense with these isolated characters.
It's definitely a weird one and not something I ever see myself watching again, but I'm not angry that I watched it. I don't know if I would ever recommend it to anyone else, but at the same time I think it's sort of genius. MY NAME IS A BY ANONYMOUS, you're a strange bird...but I think I like you.