First-time writer-director Michael Masarof makes his debut with this flawed drama about flawed people. Low-key indie “First Love” has some interesting but fleeting moments in its story of twins in crisis, but it feels like a first draft whose script could have used more fleshing out, particularly in the characterization of its leads.
Estranged twins Rebecca (Annie Heise) and Matthew (Aaron Costa Ganis) are each at their own lowest points when they finally reunite in Los Angeles. Flashbacks to childhood hint at their bond, but they haven’t seen each other in more than a decade.
She is a former child star, seeking refuge from the tabloids by hiding out in a small hotel by the ocean. Meanwhile, he has one last shot at his own success: publishing a memoir about growing up as the twin of a famous — and famously troubled — actress. He reaches out to try to get her permission for the book, but he struggles with the decision to sell her out or to finally reconnect and restore their relationship.
“First Love” is intimate in both its shooting style by cinematographer Daga Malinska and the script from Masarof, but it somehow still refrains from offering any real insight into its characters. It skirts Rebecca and Matthew’s obvious issues, avoiding them like WASPs at a family dinner. The drama stretches out for just 81 minutes, but the audience leaves the film knowing little more about the siblings than when they first appear on screen.
Running time: 1 hour, 21 minutes
Playing: Starts Dec. 13, Arena Cinelounge, Hollywood; also on VOD