First Girl, written and directed by Ellie Konn, yields an unexpected shocking twist on a first time romance flick. The film follows the character of Nadia, a shy teenager exploring her sexuality, as she develops a crush on a girl in her class, Abby. Viewers originally witness her glancing at Abby, frozen with admiration, a state that many can resonate with. Though at first Nadia seems afraid to express her feelings, fate works in her favor as the two are paired together for a school project on female authors. As the girls exchange phone numbers in an awkwardly adorable short conversation, viewers can relate to Nadia’s nervous attitude which mirrors the nerve-wracking emotions associated with having a crush.
Nadia’s mom, Carmilla, plays an extremely supportive role as Nadia opens up to her about her feelings, unsure of whether Abby feels the same way. Nadia’s character does an excellent job of shedding light on the struggles of the LGBTQ community as she fears rejection because of Abby’s religious beliefs, which she assumes from the cross that she notices around her neck. Despite her daughter’s worries, Carmilla encourages her to act on her feelings and “try to have fun” in the moment as Nadia stresses about an outfit to wear to Abby’s house. Carmilla’s support continuously follows her daughter all the way to Abby’s front doorstep as the two schedule to work on their project and Carmilla cheers Nadia on before driving off.
Nadia’s time at Abby’s house is perfectly reminiscent of all the butterflies that a first crush entails, as she searches for the right words to say and stares at Abby during inevitable moments of silence. Nonetheless, she eventually gathers up the courage to make her feelings known and leans in for a kiss as it seems Abby has the same thing on her mind, the slow pace of the scene creating tension between both the characters and the viewers, anticipating what is to come. It is then that the true intentions of Nadia shift into something different entirely; something much darker and far more terrifying.
Without revealing too much of the impeccably crafted plot twist, one can simply say that it is the last thing you would expect from a supposed romantic short film. Director Ellie Kon does an amazing job of grasping the attention of her audience before shocking them with a grand finale. While the short film would be excellent standing on the foundation of a modern teenage love story alone, its segue into the unforeseen makes it all the more special.
It is only after the conclusion of the short film that one can reflect on the subliminal messages that could have suggested the direction in which the plotline was heading. Once again, however, the element of surprise is orchestrated wonderfully by the directing of the short film, leaving viewers with a racing heartbeat and a delightful sense of perplexed confusion. Though only a short length of eight minutes, First Girl evokes both strong heartfelt emotions of relatability and surprising factors of shock, making it a twisted modern film well worth viewing.
First Girl screens at the Spring 2023 New Jersey Film Festival on Friday, February 3 as part of the Short Program #2. The film will be Online for 24 Hours and In-Person at 7PM in Voorhees Hall #105/Rutgers University, 71 Hamilton Street, New Brunswick, NJ. To buy tickets go here.
For General Info on the Film Festival go here: https://newjerseyfilmfestivalspring2023.eventive.org/welcome
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