Review: First Girl I Loved

Title: First Girl I Loved
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Director: Kerem Sanga
Starring: Dylan Gelula, Brianna Hildebrand, Mateo Arias
Runtime: 1 hr 30 mins

What It Is: Anne (Gelula) is seventeen years old. Her best friend is a young man named Clifton (Arias). What Anne doesn’t know is that Cliff seeks something more. When Anne tells Cliff about a crush she has Cliff thinks it is just some other guy. What it really is is a very popular softball player named Sasha (Hildebrand). As Anne and Sasha grow closer so do their opinions of what they are to each other. This upsets Cliff who wants to sabotage everything.

What We Think: I was in this film until the third act. It is here that the film fell into the indie film trope of not providing an ending. When a film just…ends with nothing of consequence it, for me at least, can crush the whole film. What we have here is a coming of age film for the 21st century. Like a more American (and less graphic) Blue is the Warmest Color. Where that fabulous piece of French cinema looked at a girl growing into herself and being accepted here we get someone who isn’t. Whose growth into herself is meant with disgusted from her “friends” and uncertainty from her “lover” of sorts. Once more this film, had it had a better ending I think could’ve broken the heart of everyone in the theater. Instead, we get good performances, and a decent directing job all flummoxed by some odd editing choices and that damned ending. Gelula and Hildebrand have excellent chemistry in that they are awkward around their feelings in a way that comes off naturally.

Our Grade: B, This is certainly a film I’d recommend. Hildebrand shows she has chops beyond playing Negasonic Teenage Warhead in DeadpoolI’ve never seen Dylan Gulaga who plays the lead here in anything but I cannot wait to. Likewise, writer/director Kerem Sanga has a unique eye for things. I’ll be checking out his previous work for sure. Check it out ASAP, it’s pretty good.

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