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Review: First Time Female Director. Total washout of a comedy

  • Release year: 2023
  • Director: Chelsea Peretti.
  • Producers: Kate Arend, Deanna Barillari, Jordan Grief, Chelsea Peretti and Amy Poehler.
  • Screenplay by: Chelsea Peretti.
  • Cinematographer: Jonathan Furmanski.

Synopsis: a female playwright is given the opportunity to direct her latest work due to the dismissal of the previous director for unlawful behaviour in the professional environment.

Shotgun Commentary: it’s a comedy where you won’t laugh, and a drama without emotion or passion. Watch at your own risk.

The ensemble of First Time Female Director. Photo credit: Jonathan Furmanski.
Source: First Time Female Director (Chelsea Peretti, 2023).

Review

First Time Female Director is a complete disappointment. A film marketed as comedy where Chelsea Peretti directs, writes and stars is a promise for non-stop laughter. Sadly, the movie is over and I’m still waiting for anything that provokes the slightest chuckle in me.

There is this idea that, regardless of the tragedy, if you make the character embarrassing or ridiculous enough, it will magically turn into comedy. That concept is religiously followed by this feature and could not be more wrong. If you have fun watching embarrassing situations in a loop, this is the movie for you. However, if you have a hard time watching people’s misfortunes and gradual loss of dignity and self-respect, skip this.

Lost in translation

The narrative follows Sam (Chelsea Peretti), a writer that is made director of a theatre play as a manoeuvre to wash their image. From that point on, it is a downward spiral of disaster that never recuperates and that ends as predictably as possible. If the film had a powerful message, or any message at all really, it could’ve been salvaged as a drama. Yet, watching the final product, it feels like the script was this chaotic mess full of post-its made by someone who didn’t know what to say.

The beginning is very clear: a woman being used by a patriarchal system to look more progressive. From that point on, it is all about Sam being completely incompetent. She is clearly not suited for the job that she has been given, but she is incapable of seeing her own limitations and blames everything on the fact that her predecessor is a man.

Sam Clifford (Chelsea Peretti). Source: First Time Female Director
(Chelsea Peretti, 2023).

This can be understood as the theatre director’s strategy. Because of her failure, he can excuse the appointing of a man. Still, regardless of this explanation, which would be the most coherent to the message that is being sent, Sam’s ridiculous behaviour in a professional environment muddles the whole idea.

Her lack of growth and her ability to take responsibility or charge, plus a competent man taking charge and making the play a huge success, make a very uncompelling case. If the aim was to expose the patriarchal preference to having men in positions of power instead of women, that is a very strange way to go about it. The protagonist’s lack of talent or evolution robs the story of its meaning and its ability to inspire any reaction whatsoever from the viewers.

The punchline

The biggest tragedy of the film is to see a star such as Chelsea Peretti, who is witty and hilarious in everything she does, be so criminally underused in this film. Especially considering that she is the director, and therefore the one in charge of pushing herself to be more. Her own wing clipping is devastating to see. Her character is one of the blandest she’s ever portrayed and the reason why this movie is not good enough as a comedy nor as a drama.

Yes, the non-stop awkward situations that she is part of or creates are painful to watch. Plus, her acting is great, but overall, it feels like there is no point to it. Additionally, the vicious circle of “awkward → try to fix it → make a mess → awkward” can be considered fun for certain audiences. Nevertheless, there is a limit after which it is just a repetitive, tedious loop of uncomfortable boredom.

All in all, not even the great performances of the cast could save this bland and pointless film. First Time Female Director is one of the biggest let-downs of the year.

Advice to take from this movie:

  • Never get hyped just because a good comedian makes a comedy film, results like this can and will happen occasionally.
  • Uncomfortable situations aren’t always comedic, and their constant repetition is certainly not going to give good results.
  • Not all feminist films are good, it’s a sad reality.
Sam Clifford (Chelsea Peretti). Photo credit: Jonathan Furmanski.
Source: First Time Female Director (Chelsea Peretti, 2023).

What’s your take? Have you watched First Time Female Director? Did you like it? If so, what have I missed? Don’t hesitate to let me know your thoughts in the comments section below, or leave a message in my contact page! For more reviews and cinema-related articles, check out the rest of my blog! 😀

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