Quick Hit Movie Reviews #1: 'The First Time' (2012) and 'The Look of Love' (2013)

"The First Time" (2012)

A teen flick that never quite realizes its full potential. “The First Time” is bogged down by an awkward timeline which spans a very long night that bonds high school seniors Dave (Dylan O’Brien) and Aubrey (Britt Robertson). The story then continues through the following week as the two try to decide if a relationship is in the cards for them, despite a looming life change as they leave high school and proximity behind.

A stellar performance by “Teen Wolf” star Dylan O’Brien keeps the film engaging. While, co-star Britt Robertson struggles to capture the same winsome as she portrays yet another bratty character. Another in a long line, “Under the Dome”, “Life Unexpected”, “Cherry” and “The Tenth Circle” being among the others.

The film’s blunt depiction of teen sexuality is commendable. Addressing the harsh realities of the overly romanticized aspects of teen intimacy and the cold realities of what it actually entails is a brave topic that’s rocky terrain is handled with stark honesty. A little too clinical at times, it sacrifices emotion for a bit of shock value towards the third act.

More films should strip away the candy coded facade of teenage mingling and this film mightily succeeds on that front. This might be one of the first times that a film has dared to be this boldly provocative and actually cast the right players to grab the younger audience that should be watching it. Hopefully it won’t be the last of its kind.  

Rating: 7/10

[Image by StudioCanal UK]

"The Look of Love" (2013) 

This biopic carries viewers through the fascinating life of Paul Raymond (Steve Coogan), a successful British real estate mogul, club owner and publisher; who up until his death in 2008, was the wealthiest man in all of Britain. Avoiding the portrayal of an individual as either a saint or a devil is a good place to start when it comes to depicting a real-life person and “The Look of Love” succeeds in presenting its subject as simply being human.

Reteaming with frequent directing collaborator Michael Winterbottom, Steve Coogan gives one of his best performances in a role that demands a greater versatility than his typical work, a challenge he proves to be quite adept at tackling here. Bringing his trademark charisma to the role, Coogan is endearing as Raymond, a man who in lesser hands might’ve had a harder time getting a fair representation.

Up until seeing this, Paul Raymond was a personally unfamiliar figure and this film provided an interesting introduction, to say the least. "The Look of Love" depicts his incredibly colorful life and the typical hazards that come with excessive financial achievement.

As a womanizer and drug user, the Raymond character finds a redemptive streak in his relationship with daughter Debbie, whom he lavishly spoils and genuinely adores. Rising star Imogen Poots gives an exceptional performance as the vivacious Debbie, sharing genuine father/daughter chemistry with Coogan, something that softens the oft-times frigid persona of Raymond.

“A Look of Love” is a mesmerizing ride that provides a captivating portrait of a complicated man. Heartfelt despite its debauch interludes, it proves an unexpectedly moving and highly memorable experience.

Rating: 8/10

[Featured Image by Samuel Goldwyn Films, Destination Films]