First Date opens frenetically. It uses cinematography to leave context clues: unsteady camera movements, a shot of a gun, the scene composition, shape of frames, how the room is presented and what everything within that room represents. There’s a juxtaposition in the last shot of the opening sequence and the entry of the sharp but mellow music in the following scene. This is a good introduction to the film, establishing that this is no ordinary love story, no matter what the title suggests, and a great way to grab attention and pique interest about what exactly happened that led to the events that ensue. The idea is also paralleled in the film’s ending. In general, First Date is a series of unfortunate events catalysed by the purchase of a car – events that postpone and disrupt Mike’s first date.
The fast turn of events is spliced with some quiet moments that linger a little bit longer than necessary, then to erratic driving and action sequences that quickly cut to black. There’s a whole lot of foreshadowing involved here, from the initial crash of the bike into a car to a whole lot of fast talk and conversations, along with a quick series of cross cuts between different interconnected scenes. This further adds to the convoluted disarray through which the picture tries to tell a story. The general premise is that main character Mike buys a car for his first date. This then becomes quite the journey when he finds himself in the midst of a drug struggle between two gangs. It’s satire and comedy, sprinkled with a little bit of mystery, and at some points can be extremely romantic.
There’s a lot of focus on sole objects to drum up tension and leave clues for both the viewer and Mike. So much of the film is just muffled phone conversations and recorded audio, with obscured camera angles. This again heightens the thrill of the action and mystery. It of course helps that Tyson Brown’s Mike is such an endearing protagonist. With similar vibes to Miles Morales, wrapped in innocence and puppy love, Mike stands perfectly still as the intruder in a cast of avaricious, gun-obsessed characters hellbent on one-upping each other. And, as all good first dates do, this one ends with a sweet first kiss.
First Date is released digitally on demand on 17th January 2022.
Watch the trailer for First Date here: