Freshman Year

Elsewhere, Alex’s roommate (Logan Miller) has his own wannabe stand-up comedian storyline that makes for a more conventional college narrative thread than Alex’s formative experience. In Retrospect. Another Gen Z rom-com… The empathy with which Raiff regards both protagonists is immediately apparent. More grounded and authentic than many of its predecessors, this is a disarmingly tender rom-com that will surely resonate with younger viewers. During a midnight hike they pause and sit cross-legged on the dirt. Overall, this wonderfully promising debut from Raiff transposes personal experience brilliantly and showcases the filmmaker’s talent both in front of and behind the camera. This is a semi-autobiographical work from the 23-year-old writer/director, and certain moments feel so lived-in that there’s no doubt he’s said these words before. Dissolving the sugar coating of the American college movie, Freshman Year finds poignancy in realistic moments. Enjoyment. Soft light illuminates their open expressions as they ponder their transition into adulthood and bicker over the purpose of college. So they do. Grieving the freshman experience he dreamed of, Alex (Raiff) is debilitatingly homesick and struggling to adjust to the college lifestyle. All the familiar genre clichés are here, and yet Cooper Raiff’s Freshman Year feels surprisingly fresh. Raiff’s script gives Maggie plenty to say, too. Share this

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With this poignant rom-com, writer/director and star Cooper Raiff establishes himself as a vital voice for Gen Z.Amid a sea of red cups and a dance floor filled with drunkenly swaying bodies, a boy and a girl lock eyes across the room. A refreshing take on a stale genre. It is a refreshing scene that lends itself to the wider implication of the film being an in-touch portrait of Gen Z. Raiff deserves all the credit he’s getting. As the pair grow more familiar Rachel Klein’s lens pushes closer. While Alex is a more sensitive soul who craves a meaningful relationship, Maggie is more unfussy and pragmatic when it comes to matters of the heart. Published 4 Oct 2021

Share this The film focuses on the pair’s concentrated time together, from their midnight escapades through to the following morning’s awkwardness. Here he meets sophomore Maggie (Dylan Gelula), the first person he’s shared a real connection with at college. Earning some of the film’s most earnest laughs, Maggie’s trio of friends deserved more substantial screen time. That is, until he secures an invite to the Shithouse fraternity’s party. Suddenly, the college students look more like children. When Alex and Maggie are hooking up, he suddenly asks to stop. Freshman Year

Review by Emily Maskell

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Directed by

Cooper Raiff


Amy Landecker
Cooper Raiff
Dylan Gelula

Anticipation. Sitting silently in his dorm, he cuts a lonely figure. Instead of continuing straight away, they talk.

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