Saturday, November 14, 2015


Written & Directed By: Alison Burnett 
Based on the Novel:  Undiscovered Gyrl By Alison Burnett
Cinematography By: Patrice Lucien Cochet 
Editor: Adam Lichenstein 

Cast: Britt Robertson, Martin Sheen, Christian Slater, Kimberly Williams-Paisely, Molly Hagan, Robert Patrick, Justin Long, Zuleikha Robinson, Lorraine Toussaint, Sharon Omi, Jake Hoffman, Max Carver, Gia Mantegna

Beautiful, wild, funny, and lost, Katie Kampenfelt takes a year off before college to find herself, all the while chronicling her adventures in an anonymous blog into which she pours her innermost secrets. Eventually, Katie's fearless narrative begins to crack, and dark pieces of her past emerge

This is a hard film to describe. As it seems to be it's own animal.

What I mean by that is that it slowly evolves during it's story and becomes deeper then the vapid and uninteresting surface story it begins as . Even though it never quite achieves a feeling of being a good film. It shows that it is trying to be a character piece and deep. Then finally in it's final act the film totally blows the viewer away with an ending that makes you question all that came before, but also is so powerful and unexpected that it truly saves the film.

The film is strongly sexual in certain scenes. Though here the scene never feel romantic. To a point they are clinical and cold. That seem to be more expressions of dread and the characters seeming downfall as she unknowingly self destructs in a sense.

When the film begins it seems like a low budget coming of age story of a privileged character that it is hard to feel sorry for. As she seems to court trouble and her own problems. As we watch her get into one calamity after another. Usually in the form of bad relationships and hook-ups. That we in the audience are all too familiar with and can see where it is going. To a degree she also seems to realize this, but stays reckless and self destructive. Though as the story goes on and her character keeps a blog what at first seems like a weak romantic comedy with a bunch of drama. Slowly becomes revealing about the character.

We realize why she might actually be the way she is. Why she always seems desperate. That she isn't as vapid as she seems and you finally actually start to feel something for her.

Even if the film never quite rises to the level it could. Due to what feels at first like lazy or inept direction. That fills the film with a uncertainty of where it is really going. I believe we are left with this plainness so that it not only feels normal, that gets downright boring at times, but so we won't pick up on any direction the story might go and just let the action happen and follow it wherever it might go. As well as being an excellent set-up for the ending.


Which makes us question all that we have seen before. Was this the fantasy version we just watched. Was this all a production orchestrated by someone and the truth comes out finally in the end. Though it can be argued she just disappeared and it is left to the viewer what actually happened. You can think she took fate into her own hands and went off to make her own decisions or the way it seems structured more as a tragedy. It leaves it all open ended. Yet still Surprising.

All of which explains why the film has such a strong star studded cast. Though some of the actors are more in cameos. It seemed at first odd why such big names would be in this film. Especially this type.

I mean of course you have Christian Slater cast as her handsome employer. Who she is attracted to and might or might not have an affair with. And Martin Sheen as the grandfatherly boss at the bookstore she works at briefly and goes to for advice. Then when at the end we see what the characters they play look like in the so called real story. You can see why maybe the lead up was a fantasy or it's own dream version.


The film serves as a film in which I can't say is inspiring for teen girls, but maybe a film in which they can relate or speaks to them in a sense. Which is why it was hard for me to get into. This film and partially pass any judgment as I am not the audience it is aimed at, but can at least respect the film for what it achieves and what it also tries to achieve.

One of the big draws for me to watch the film is star Britt Robertson who here proves against she has a star quality. That I have noticed just from watching her in other films in smaller and starring roles. She is the reason the film works for the most part, her performance is smart, strong and believable. It is certainly strange to see her in a more sexually charged movie as this is so far the most adult role she has played. Especially with this film coming on the heels of this year's TOMMOROWLAND where she plays a 15 year old and here she is playing a just graduated high school student. One of the reasons I have followed her career is that she has played in her fair share of teen movies, but she is usually not only better then the film. But also as is the case with the film THE FIRST TIME. She seems to try to find material that is somewhat different or challenging even if the film ends up becoming more basic.

Though I can give the film points for being devastating and making a good point. It still makes us sit through a very long set-up just to get to the powerful scenes. That make you really question was it worth it. Sure it works as an experience, but does the film really work overall without it. As it seems the ending was going to be something simpler, before it hair seems like someone got a bright idea to change the whole makeup of the film. Has it truly earned such a out of nowhere reveal. That essentially saves the film?

As the film always feels like it is letting air out of the room. It feels flat lot of times. No matter what the actors try to bring to life in the film. Britt Robertson is nice enough and created a real character I only wish she was in a more vibrant film.

Grade: C

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