If you’re a regular reader of ccpopculture, you’re probably getting a little tired of all the 3 star reviews. Afraid to say, here’s another one – First Girl I Loved. This queer coming-of-age/romance flick is certainly better than average, but nor does it particularly threaten greatness.
The film’s strengths are its cast and its look, in that order. Lead Dylan Gelula – as our protagonist, Anne – is entirely convincing as an awkward yet endearing teenager, and she’s capably supported by Deadpool’s Briana Hildebrand (as her object of affection, Sasha), Mateo Arias (as her ‘friend’ Cliff Martinez – yes, really) and an adult-aged cast including Pamela Adlon and Tim Heidecker. First Girl I Loved looks very ‘indie’ – gauzy light streaming into the camera, flashes of Instagram expressionism during the most emotional moments – but it avoids feeling clichéd.
It’s structure that keeps the film from greatness. Writer-director Kerem Sanga insists on an elliptical, non-linear mode of storytelling that obscures significant plot points until late in the piece and denatures our identification with Anne through an inconsistent perspective. It’s an especially unfortunate decision because it impedes the screenplay’s natural strengths, twisting a presumably realistic drama about queerness, rejection and sexual consent into an ill-suited melodramatic mode.