My First Summer — Reimagining the Queer Coming-of-Age Summer Film | BFI Flare Review
Grace (Maiah Stewardson), a flamboyant and creative girl, witnesses the drowning of a local woman. While investigating the woman’s life and a possible second person involved in the incident, she finds Claudia (Markella Kavenagh), the unknown daughter of the dead woman. Claudia, after being sheltered and isolated with her mother her entire life, is fearful of life outside of her home, unable to cope with new people or new surroundings. The two begin to form a close friendship that soon evolves into passion, all the while teaching each other about the beauty of life and love.
My First Summer is basked in this gorgeous glow of the summer sun. It’s reminiscent of the nostalgic hug you get from Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name but with the purity of passion you get from Sebastian Lelio’s A Fantastic Woman. It’s aware of the films that have come before it, while still being able to forge its own path, creating a stunning new feature that will bring an eternal warmth to the LGBTQ+ film canon.
But what really gives this film its charm is that it finds beauty, instead of grief, in young queer love. My First Summer differs from other coming-of-age queer films, as its protagonists are never shamed, chastised or pitted because of their sexuality. They are allowed to explore their love for one another fully unadulterated and without judgement. The main source of anxiety in these girls’ lives isn’t their sexual preference. Rather, their love for one another allows them both to flourish into young adults, to face their fears and insecurities and become the best versions of themselves.
It’s easy for LGBTQ+ narratives to become negative and depressing quite quickly. There’s almost this unspoken rule that to tell queer stories, it must be filled with torment. But My First Summer challenges those tropes and allows its characters to create a beautiful and wholesome love that shows the power of true devotion and dedication to another human being.