At the risk of being redundant, I have to join the other reviewers here who hated the ending of this film. At least our dismay shows how fully we bought into this story and hated what the 5 Popular Girls did to poor Haley.
Kudos to the actors playing the popular girls, who think that "disrespect" means someone "deserves" a beating and who long so much for their flash of Internet fame, the majority of them never do seem to regret making the video that will condemn them. I was especially impressed by the realistic unevenness of them helping Haley into a car after the beating, and one of them giving her a cola. It was a touch that cemented their inability to understand the full gravity of what they'd done.
I didn't mind Haley not fighting back when her supposed "friends" turned on her. She was clearly outnumbered, and her bewilderment and helplessness made her all the more sympathetic as a victim (both to the viewer and to the prosecution). She was never a character who would strike out in anger. I even understood her accepting a plea deal, rather than go through the horror of a trial and risk the girls getting life in prison (while I would not have minded seeing them get life, I understand that crimes committed by stupid teenagers perhaps shouldn't ruin their entire lives). When her mother stands up and tells the judge that the family is willing to accept a plea, I was fine with that -- but when she adds that the family is requesting the most lenient possible sentence, I found myself shouting at the television in a Not-So-Good way.
There ARE a lot of choices between "life in prison" and "probation with time served," after all.
It's one thing to not strike out at people in anger, or to refuse to escalate a violent situation further by fighting back. But the film confuses this often-laudable principle with not demanding justice. Only one of the five attackers ever shows regret or shame for what they did. The others delight in it, and in the fame it brings them. They don't want to go to jail, but to the bitter end they seem to blame Haley for what is happening to them, rather than blaming themselves. We are given no indication that other girls will be safe in the future... and I find that especially dissatisfying.
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