First Love movie review & film summary (2022)

The dialogue that articulates the Albright’s tight situation is often bland and oversimplified, but it’s still a (pleasant) shock to see an American feature film dealing with the financial collapse in something other then genre-based metaphors (as, for example, the excellent crime thriller “Killing Them Softly” did). 

When Kay goes to the bank to try to get a loan, the bank officer looks at her application and wants to know if her husband is sick, and if not, why he isn’t working. “Even a minimum-wage job would look better on the record than things are now,” he says. 

We later learn that friends and family members have largely abandoned the Albrights in their time of distress. There’s a paranoid intimation that people have stopped answering their phone calls because they don’t want to hear about their suffering or risk being asked for money. When the priest at their church says, “Where is the pleasure in life that is unmixed with sorrow?” it sounds less like a balm than a cop-out. “This place is a box,” Glenn grouses after the family moves into a smaller place.

The big problem with this movie is that it focuses more than half of its running time on a vanilla romance between Glenn and Kay’s teenage son Jim (Hero Fiennes Tiffin, son of director Martha Fiennes and nephew of actors Ralph and Joseph Fiennes) and his classmate Ann (Sydney Park). The film is at its most Malick-like when focusing on the young couple, but not in a good way. Edwards, cinematographer Jeff Bierman, and editor Alec Styborski serve up lyrical montages and dreamy, silent-with-music imagery as if hoping to capture some of the mysterious magic of the central love stories in Malick’s “The New World” and “To the Wonder.” 

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