Film Review: Freshman Year

Going to college (in the US), or university (in the UK) can be a scary, exciting and daunting experience. For many, it will be the first time they’ve lived away from home. Had to cook their own meals, wash their clothes, manage their finances and generally be independent. Whilst some take to it like a fish to water, it can be a difficult and emotionally turbulent transition for others. Cutting those familial bonds can be difficult to do. As is the case in Freshman Year.

Alex (Cooper Raiff) is a lonely Texas freshman studying at college in Los Angeles. Midway through his first year, has no friends and struggles to bond with his roommate Sam (Logan Miller), who thinks he’s lame. He spends much of his time alone or talking on the phone to his mom (Amy Landecker) and younger sister, for whom he concocts a fake social life. This all changes one night when he meets Maggie (Dylan Gelula).

Freshman Year revels in its DIY ethos. Whilst a low budget means that the emphasis is quite firmly on dialogue, Raiff doubles down to make his film feel authentic and organic. Although he directs, writes, co-edits and stars in his feature debut, it never feels like his own ego takes over. Alex and Maggie are both flawed characters, but there’s an element of truth to their stories. The leap towards the end is a little difficult to take, but it’s easy to see why Freshman Year scooped the Grand Jury Award at SXSW.

Freshman Year is out in cinemas and digitally in the Spring.

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