This touching, well-acted drama centers around a young woman's sexual coming-of-age after her mother's death. Clearly a labor of love, Sophie Jones is a family affair involving first cousins Jessie Barr (writer, director) and Jessica Barr (co-writer, star), who have nearly identical names because they were both named after their shared grandmother. While in their teens, each also lost a parent to cancer, just like the film's main character, so the movie is somewhat autobiographical for them. Sophie isn't always a likable character, and her actions and decisions range from cringeworthy to irrational, but she's always utterly believable for a high schooler who's carrying the immense pain of a mother's death. Of course she's searching for ways to dull that pain, while avoiding any substantive conversation about her feelings. Kevin, therefore, is too caring, too nice, and too empathetic for Sophie, who just wants to get out of her head for a while, not talk.
The two Barrs convey first sexual experiences with a brutal honesty and realistic style. There's a naturalness to Sophie's encounters, whether it's giggling in bed with Kevin as they first make out or, later, in a sad, regrettable moment after her actual first time, during which she literally says "This is it? This is sex?" with an underwhelming tone that makes it clear it's not the fireworks and passion she imagined. While nothing is visually explicit, Sophie and Claire have frank conversations that reveal Sophie's initially inexperienced but well-thought-out views on what she is and isn't interested in doing. But this is far from American Pie; there's no fetishization of first times in the film. It's really about dealing with loss, feeling alone, and wanting to feel good at a time when things are bleakest. The Barrs succeed in their labor of love, and the movie marks Jessie as a filmmaker to watch.