First Time Female Director (2024) Movie Review – A Chelsea Peretti film that lacks substance and weight

A Chelsea Peretti film that lacks substance and weight

If you decide to pursue a career in lights, camera, and action, be prepared for numerous challenges along the way. And if you’re an outsider to the industry, those obstacles can be even more daunting. Now, imagine being an aspiring filmmaker, an outsider, and a woman—all at the same time. It’s a tough battle, even if you’re incredibly talented.

The American drama “First Time Female Director” tackles these harsh realities head-on. It’s a one-woman show in every sense of the word, with Chelsea Peretti taking on the roles of writer, director, producer, and lead actress. The film had its theatrical release in 2023 and premiered exclusively on the Roku channel on March 8th. Clocking in at a runtime of 1 hour 36 minutes, it’s a compelling exploration of the challenges faced by female filmmakers in the industry.

Sam Clifford finds herself thrust into the director’s chair for the first time in her theater career. She is nervous and overwhelmed by the sudden opportunity, feeling unprepared for the role. Despite her efforts in casting and managing the crew, she faces resistance as the first female director in the theater’s history.

On the first day of rehearsals, Sam’s nerves got the best of her, and she ends up embarrassing herself with her actions. Instead of being a leader, she comes across as bossy and unsure. Nothing seems to go her way despite her earnest intentions to improve the theater production.

Sam struggles to connect with both the cast and crew, failing to form any meaningful relationships. In times of crisis, she finds herself isolated and unsupported. Frustrated and alone, she lashes out verbally at someone in the theater, further exacerbating her struggles.

After facing all these challenges, will Sam survive in the director’s chair, or will something miraculous happen? What lies behind the turmoil? Is the fact that she’s a female director the only reason for everything, or is there something worse at the root of it all? To find out, you’ll have to stream it on Roku.

In any audiovisual project or pre-production, it is writing that makes a significant difference. If you have complete faith in your script, you have a better chance of success in the later stages of production. However, ‘First Time Female Director’ falls short in this aspect.

The screenplay is divided into several sections as the story progresses from the pre-production of a play to its post-production. Sam fits well into the tone of this, and the narrative is quite engaging. In the introduction, her embarrassing actions will make you cringe, even if you’re not familiar with their world. There’s a scene where she tries to assert control like a ‘Mamma Lion,’ irritating everyone who tries to escape from her. Her behavior that day is enough to make you feel irritated, just like the characters.

The convincing portrayal of such moments deserves appreciation, with Chelsea excelling as a writer in those parts. She also performs well as Sam, portraying the character as loud and erratic, unsure of what she wants from life. If the character was meant to be an annoying lunatic, then she portrayed it convincingly. The other characters, although loud like Sam, didn’t have enough space to showcase their potential.

‘First Time Female Director’ lacks anything special beyond its premise – depicting the struggles of a debutant director in the entertainment industry. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t offer much else to entertain or engage viewers. While the loud treatment isn’t necessarily an issue, the story lacks depth in its development. Chelsea Peretti appears uncertain in crafting the storyline, much like the lead character, Sam, throughout the film.

Overall, ‘First Time Female Director’ doesn’t quite hit the mark. There are moments where the story ideas and the depiction of Chelsea hold some promise, making it somewhat watchable. However, as the film progresses, it becomes apparent that it lacks consistency and fails to hold interest. While it has its moments, ultimately, it falls short.

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  • Verdict - 5/10

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