‘First Girl I Loved’ Is A Woozy And Wonderful Queer Teen Romance

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Anne (Dylan Gelula) is kind of raggedy and unformed. Her neck hangs in a semi-permanent hunch, and her lips are always slightly open, as though she’s constantly looking for a word that she just can’t seem to find. A blue streak runs through her matted brown hair, which sometimes knots into a handful of dreadlocks that dangle off to one side. She’s 17, a virgin, and she’s about to fall in love for the first time. Sasha (Brianna Hildebrand, unrecognizable from her “Deadpool” breakthrough as Negasonic Teenage Warhead ) is a different story — she practically sparkles. The star of her high school’s softball team, she’s prim and proper, with dimples riveted deep into each cheek. She’s also probably a virgin, but Sasha’s not the type of person to talk about such things in public.

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Of course, being 17 often means not knowing what type of person you are quite yet, and one of the most compelling things about Karem Sanga’s raw and emotionally radiant “First Girl I Loved” is how well it captures the heart-pounding terror of becoming someone, the one-way nausea of committing to yourself. From the instant that Anne locks eyes with Sasha at one of her games — and even during some of the clunkier moments that crowd out the movie’s needlessly complicated middle section — this is a fresh and exciting film that remembers what it feels like to fall in love with the first time, and leverages the nascent queerness of its characters in order to amplify that sense of being ambushed by your own emotions.

Actors: Brianna Hildebrand, Dylan Gelula, Mateo Arias
Directors: Kerem Sanga

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