THE awkward teen 'first love' phase is given an LGBTI twist in this Sundance Film Festival indie film about teenage girls navigating their burgeoning sexuality.
Awkward, messy photographer hopeful Anne Smith (Dylan Gelula) develops a crush on confident, popular softball player Sasha Basanez (Brianna Hilde- ★★★ Review by: brand) and invents a yearbook feature as an excuse to interview her and get to know her better.
The pair become buddies right away, and there are sparks between them, but Anne is more sure of her feelings than Sasha.
The sometimes painful process of realising who she really is, is heightened for Anne with the rejection she gets from her best friend Clifton Martinez (Mateo Arias) when she comes out to him.
Writer/director Kerem Sanga captures those angsty, silent rush-of-feelings moments that teenagers are prone to, slowing the movement of the shot for added impact when Anne and Sasha share a special moment.
But their story follows a familiar path, with few surprises or new insights into teenagers.
Sasha is so deeply confused, and confusing, that her motivations become murky and her actions unrelatable.
Gelula does not get much of a chance to break far away form her similarly awkward character in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
What the story, and film as a whole, does benefit from is the LGBT representation, something sorely missing from teen films.
Dylan Gelula in First Girl I Loved. FIRST GIRL I LOVED (M) DIRECTED BY: STARRING: