Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Britt Robertson, Victoria Justice
Director: Jonathan Kasdan
Running Time: 95 mins
The First Time is an American film about a shy high school boy who falls in love with a girl over one weekend, as they consider the prospect of losing their virginity.
This is fortunately one of those teen romances that has a lot more to offer than juvenile comedy and trivial popularity hijinks. That said, The First Time takes a long while to get there, slogging through an underwhelming opening act before finally getting to an impressively tender and emotionally insightful finale.
For the best part of an hour, this film doesn’t really have much to say. There’s the inner turmoil of a high schooler as he begins to fall for another girl, and that’s played out in fairly pleasant fashion. But, given the film’s deliberately slow, almost reflective pacing and style, the lack of depth early on makes The First Time a bit of a dull watch at the start.
Also, it almost feels as if the film starts with the romance between Dave (Dylan O’Brien) and Aubrey (Britt Robertson) already in full swing. That makes Dave’s struggle between the two girls he has eyes for a little unconvincing, and it also takes away from the whirlwind excitement that the pair’s 48-hour love story is meant to be.
So, as a romantic drama, The First Time really struggles to find its legs early on. Britt Robertson is lovely in the lead role, and has good chemistry with Dylan O’Brien, although he does struggle to portray the likably shy and innocent high schooler.
However, the film starts to come good in the final half hour, as it develops from a fairly underwhelming teen romance into a pensive and genuinely tender drama about the big step of losing your virginity.
Strangely, though the title may suggest it, that topic isn’t mentioned at all for the first hour, so it feels a little abrupt when it ultimately comes about. However, the film really gets into its stride with a very heartfelt and honest depiction of the topic, and its slow pace and sentimental atmosphere only adds to that.
It may take a long time to get there, but the film’s finale is as touching as it is genuine, and it leaves a strong impression as the story comes to an end. Overall, The First Time is admittedly a bit of a mixed bag, but with such a strong finale, plus engaging drama throughout, it’s worth the watch in the end, which is why I’m giving it 7.2.