First Girl I Loved

First Girl I Loved
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Cast

First Girl I Loved

La 17enne Anne (Dylan Gelula, vista in “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”), vive con la madre single (Pamela Adlon, premiata agli Emmy), è appena entrata alle superiori e sa già perfettamente che non prova alcun interesse per i ragazzi. Il suo migliore amico, Clif (Mateo Arias), non è a conoscenza delle preferenze di Anne e coltiva una segreta passione per Anne. Anne mostra invece una particolare attenzione per la più popolare giocatrice di softball della scuola, Sasha (Brianna Hildebrand), e quando Clif se ne rende conto (Anne si confida con lui per ottenere conforto), s’impegna al massimo per sabotare la loro potenziale relazione. Sasha, da parte sua, è troppo spaventata e confusa per rendersi conto del vero significato dell’amicizia sempre più intima che sta stringendo con Anne. Ma quando certe scelte verranno fatte più per ripicca che per altro, le cose diventeranno assai più complicate di quanto ciascuno dei tre potesse immaginare… Sembrerebbe che ci troviamo davanti al solito triangolo lui ama lei ma lei ama un’altra, invece il film vuole raccontarci molto di più, soprattutto della protagonista e di tutto quello e quelli che la circondano. La tecnica usata dal regista (strano che registi maschi riescano  ad entrare così bene nell’intimo femminile – vedi, ad un livello decisamente superiore,  “La storia di Adele”) è assai originale, anche se inizialmente può sembrare disturbante il continuo avanti e indietro nel tempo, che però, a posteriori, riesce a farci capire i sentimenti che sorreggono le azioni e le parole dei protagonisti. Soprattutto la confusione, gli imbarazzi, le difficoltà di fronteggiare le proprie paure e incertezze, nel marasma delle varie situazioni che mettono in gioco anche parenti, amici e compagni di scuola (peccato che per alcuni di questi non si possa sapere di più). La centralità del film rimane però sui personaggi di Anne e Sasha, con quest’ultima che vuole essere felice ma è anche preoccupata di cosa pensano gli altri e quindi propensa a nascondersi anche a se stessa. Come nella sequenza, fondamentale, della foto che finisce sull’annuario, evento che diventa il momento della verità per tutti. Bravissima Dylan Gelula (Anne) a farci arrivare il sentimento della lotta e del dolore che la pervade così come la genuinità del suo rapporto con Sasha, una chimica magica che ci ha fatto subito innamorare delle due protagoniste.

synopsis

Opposites attract in this alternately funny and heart-rending high school romance. Anne is a bike-riding, yearbook-editing, gangly nerd whose best friend is yearbook pal Cliff. Sasha is an attractive and popular athlete in the top 15 percent of the class. Anne finds herself smitten when she photographs Sasha playing softball, and she uses the yearbook as an excuse to interview her girl crush. Attraction sparks, and soon the girls are texting nonstop, thrift-store shopping together, and sneaking out to bars. But are they budding BFFs or something more? The line blurs during a sexy sleepover, leaving Anne clearly ready to bust out of the closet. However, even in these enlightened times, coming out can be complicated and painful—especially when odd man out Cliff turns jealous and Sasha gets nervous.

Winner of a NEXT Audience Award at Sundance, First Girl I Loved unfolds in kaleidoscopic fashion, as writer-director Kerem Sanga moves back and forth in time to reveal the full story—handling the visual challenge of communicating these teenagers’ digital, device-driven lives with ease. Dylan Gelula (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) as Anne and Brianna Hildebrand (Deadpool) as Sasha capture all the awkwardness and effervescence of first love, backed up by a terrific supporting cast of teachers and parents. In this middle-class SoCal community, everyone is, of course, OK with gay kids—except when they actually have to deal with them. Look for Cameron Esposito in a sweet cameo as a counselor who gives Anne the quiet acceptance she’s seeking.

(Monica Nolan, Frameline)

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trailer: First Girl I Loved

Varie

Review by Dennis Harvey (Variety)

Anne (Dylan Gelula, from Netflix’s “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”) is a mildly quirky 17-year-old who lives with her single mom (Pamela Adlon) and exercises her arty side as photographer for the school yearbook. It’s in the latter capacity that she encounters softball-playing senior star athlete Sasha (Brianna Hildebrand), and is instantly smitten. She can’t wait to tell her best (and seemingly only) friend, Clifton (Mateo Arias). She’s taken aback when his reaction is not supportive but jealously hostile — he always hoped their friendship was just a stepping stone to “something more.” Meanwhile, Anne orchestrates meeting Sasha under the guise of a yearbook interview, and the two young women instantly click. After Anne has a spat with Mom, she sleeps over at her new bestie’s, with some (rather murkily defined) fireworks ensuing.
The next morning, however, clouds obscure the sunshine of first love — notably Sasha’s internal “Am I a lesbian?!” and “What will people think??” freakout, exacerbated by Anne’s need for affirmation and a suddenly-chilled-out Clifton’s assumption that they’re already an item. When there’s rancor all around, Anne makes an impulsive decision that necessitates a leap forward some weeks, and triggers an emergency parent/teacher/counselor summit.These latter events considerably up the narrative intrigue, but they aren’t very well worked out or gracefully introduced. Sanga’s screenplay jigsaws just a few episodes, taking them out of chronological order in a way that doesn’t make a lot of storytelling sense. While the characters’ later actions are credibly conflicted, they could and should have had the groundwork laid earlier on.We get far too much of Anne and Sasha nervously giggling with and about each other. That’s realistic adolescent behavior, but somehow it leaves no leftover room for illuminating their surrounding social, family and school lives. We barely see them interact with other students; their parents (though Adlon gets a fair amount of screen time) are even more poorly defined. At worst, Sanga seems more interested in watching his two pretty-as-a-picture leads’ midsections than he does exploring the personal histories and environs that shaped their still-formative selves. (The film was shot in Los Angeles, but suburban setting is granted so little personality it might as well be anywhere.)The results are more well intentioned than actually purposeful, but nonetheless slick and pacey enough to hold attention. The performances, like the tech/design contributions, are pleasantly strong enough without making a strong enough imprint to elevate material that could have used another fine-tuning draft or two.

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