Review: First Love
[Originally published in Movietone News 57, February 1978]
Joan Darling’s feature-film debut as a director is mostly disappointing, a college-age love story frequently indistinguishable from other misty, slowmo entries in the genre. Boy (William Katt, Carrie‘s prom date), who is hip on Dante and tired of careless sexual flings, becomes smitten with girl (Susan Dey), who has a dead father and an avuncular lover hanging over her. Girl can’t really make the break with either ghost, so the boy, seeing an indefinitely protracted future of being fucked-over again and again, terminates the relationship. That’s mostly it, except for side glances at the boy’s super-M.C.P. neighbor in the next dorm room (John Heard) and the two chicks he’s chasing in various directions round the mulberry bush (Beverly d’Angelo, June Barrett). But if the script (for which Darling is not credited) has little that’s new, and more than a few egregious gestures toward bittersweet poetry, Darling’s direction occasionally vouchsafes some pleasant surprises, among them a nice exploratory raunchiness in the sex scenes and a gratifyingly generous treatment of the girl’s older lover (a very graceful performance by Robert Loggia). It is also somewhat surprising–and perhaps perplexing–that in a film directed by one woman and written by another, the boy should be treated as the true-blue point-of-view character while the girl finally demonstrates herself to be, in his reluctant phrase, a cunt.
Â© 1978 Richard T. Jameson
Direction: Joan Darling. Screenplay: Joan Stanton Hitchcock and David Freeman, after the story “Sentimental Education” by Harold Brodkey.
The players: William Katt, Susan Dey, John Heard, Beverly d’Angelo, Robert Loggia, Virginia Leith.