A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Love endures -- and takes many forms. Unconditional love means being there when things aren't going well, exists even when someone is no longer in your life. Illustrates the adage "If you love something, let it go. If it comes back to you, it's yours forever. If it doesn't, then it was never meant to be."
Positive Role Models
The two primary characters, a mother and a son, both quietly demonstrate love in several forms, as well as integrity, patience, and steadfastness. Ann, the teen romantic interest, is smart, independent, mature, willing to have opinions that are different from her friends'. Jim and Ann demonstrate a respectful beginning, progression, breakup, and reunion in a relationship of equals.
Story revolves around a young interracial couple. Racial diversity in the workforce. Plot shows many different examples of love, not just romantic, including a woman who's taking care of her former childhood guardian.
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Violence & Scariness
Brief scuffle. Reference to a character's statement indicating that he may be having suicidal ideation.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
High schoolers have sex, with a teen girl demonstrating sexual agency and a teen boy demonstrating how to ask for consent. The side of the girl's breast is seen when she's lying under the covers. A couple who've been together for more than two decades also have sex, showing that passion persists in long-term, committed relationships. A mother advises her daughter to experiment and have multiple partners before settling down. In a nonsexual moment, a teen girl is shown in her underwear and a tank top.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
College students drink beer, and adults are seen drinking at a celebration and with dinner, but no one drinks to excess.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that First Love centers on the romance between a young high school couple. Teens have sex (the side of a breast is visible), as do adults. A mother advises her daughter to experiment and have multiple partners before settling down. "A--hole" is said, and college students and adults drink socially. The teens' intense feelings may leave younger viewers in wistful anticipation. But other love stories are told here, too, including that of a long-lasting marriage and the love for a parent and guardian. All of this serves as a memorable demonstration that unconditional love means being there when things aren't going well -- and exists even when someone is no longer in your life. And it illustrates the adage: "If you love something, let it go. If it comes back to you, it's yours forever. If it doesn't, then it was never meant to be." The film takes place during the recession of 2008, which is why a character loses his job and has a hard time finding another. Characters are Eastern Orthodox Christian, and a priest makes appearances throughout, but their faith is character driven, not story driven. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Of all the teen romance movies out there, A.J. Edwards has created one of the loveliest and most meaningful. It's quiet and still, almost like a sculpture you walk around slowly until you realize you've come full circle. In comparing Jim and Ann's blooming, hopeful love with the steadfast love of Jim's parents, Kim (Diane Kruger) and Greg, whose marriage is being tested by financial strain, First Love reveals what "happily ever after" really looks like. As those in long-term marriages well know, commitment isn't all sunshine. Sometimes it rains. For years. But soul mates stick together for the rainbows.
Jim and Ann's romance is the full sigh. They fall in love through meaningful looks, gentle laughs, and mature outlooks (so mature, at times, they may lose a bit of relatability). The flourish is George Kallis' poignant score: Similar to Somewhere in Time's unforgettable use of Rachmaninoff's "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini," the slow piano and violin whispers in First Love intensify to allow the sweetness of the teens' emotions to reach the viewers' hearts. Adults will be brought back to those first butterflies and feeling like you have a heart that simultaneously stops and beats loudly; teens will hold their breath, dreaming of the moment when they meet someone special. It's telling that a priest character pops in at the beginning, the middle, and the end of the film, given how well the story exemplifies the oft-quoted scripture "Love is patient and kind..." First Love isn't a big film, and it doesn't make a loud statement -- but it's incredibly satisfying. For parents of lovestruck high schoolers in search of a film to help them realize what long-term commitment means beyond "I do," First Love is "the one."
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.