First Blush follows married couple Nena and Drew as they meet and find themselves navigating a polyamorous relationship with the younger Olivia. The movie features strong performances and chemistry between the three leads that drives the narrative throughout. The story falls short as a romantic comedy but works well as a love story displaying the highs and lows of a polyamorous relationship.
First Blush, written and directed by Victor Neumark, centers on Nena (Rachel Alig), a woman who is at a crossroads in her life on the verge of turning thirty despite the support of her husband, Drew (Ryan Caraway). At an unwanted surprise birthday party thrown by Nena and Drew’s closest friends Carrie (Jordee Kopanski) and her fiancé John (Christopher Moaney-Lawson), Nena finds herself drawn to Carrie’s younger co-worker Olivia (Kate Beecroft). The two connect and form an instant connection. A subsequent group camping trip deepens this connection and Drew encourages Nena to act on her attraction to Olivia.
What follows is a budding polyamorous relationship between Nena, Drew, and Olivia that runs into opposition from outside judgment and each character’s own insecurities. Nena’s insecurities and desire to be in control in particular puts Drew and Olivia at odds with her. After a period of time apart, the film has a hopeful ending with the promise that the three will work things out with their relationship and their individual issues.
While polyamorous relationships have been depicted on screen before in media such as Professor Marston and the Wonder Women and Siren, representations of polyamorous relationships on screen are overall still rare. The relationship in First Blush is realistic and believable, as the chemistry between Alig, Caraway, and Beecroft shines on screen.
In addition, the three leads blend into their characters and give powerful and nuanced performances throughout the course of the movie. The movie does a great job of allowing all three viewpoints in the relationship to be expressed and the relationship develops by the end of the movie as an equal partnership rather than Olivia being a third wheel to Nena and Drew’s marriage. Despite being necessary development, some of these scenes at certain points can move at a glacial pace.
The reactions to Nena, Drew, and Olivia’s relationship from their friends and family are also realistic and provide conflict to the relationship. Carrie is disturbed the relationship, especially since she idolizes Nena and Drew’s marriage and misunderstands the idea of polyamory. Meanwhile, Olivia’s brother Benny is concerned about her being involved with a married couple.
While the outsiders don’t initially understand the relationship, they are eventually able to somewhat come around on their hesitations while figuring out the problems in their own, monogamous relationships. These relationships provide a contrast to Nena, Drew, and Olivia’s relationship, proving that all relationships take work to flourish no matter how many people are involved.
Nena’s struggles to let go of control in the relationship and questions of whether she wants to be in a relationship with either Drew or Olivia provides the primary conflict to the story. Her eventual alienation of the two and her subsequent realization that she does in fact want to be with both Drew and Olivia is well developed. The movie’s ending with the three reuniting and Nena promising to work on her issues is a hopeful and satisfying conclusion that acknowledges that not all relationship problems are fixed overnight with a simple Hollywood ending.
While the story and characters are well-developed, it was surprising to find out in our interview with the director and stars that this movie was billed as a romantic comedy. While the movie has some funny moments sprinkled throughout, there wasn’t enough humor to justify the movie’s comedy billing. The movie works better as a romantic drama than it does as a romantic comedy.
First Blush succeeds at portraying a balanced relationship between three people and is a respectful portrayal of the polyamorous community. The chemistry of the characters and the development of the relationship are the movie’s strengths and help overcome the movie’s minor pacing issues. While the movie doesn’t feel like a romantic comedy as it is billed, it does a good job of providing another nuanced on-screen depiction of the underrepresented polyamorous community.
First Blush is available on VOD platforms starting February 2, 2021.
Author: Jessica Wolff
Jessica Wolff is a graduate of Drexel University with a BS in Film/Video. She has a passion for entertainment and representation in entertainment. She currently resides outside of Washington, DC.
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