Freshman Year – Film Review
Director – Cooper Raiff
Writer – Cooper Raiff
Stars – Cooper Raiff, Dylan Gelula, Amy Landecker
Alex Malmquist (Cooper Raiff) is a thoroughly nice young man. He’s 19 years old and halfway through his first year in college. He’s struggled to make new friends and spends most of his time in his college dorm room talking to his stuffed animal. At the end of another party, he returns home to his dorm where he meets Maggie (Amy Landecker). After a failed attempt to have sex, they end up talking about their lives. Maggie’s turtle, Pete, died today and she put its body in a dumpster. Andrew decides that the turtle deserves a proper burial and they set off to retrieve the body and give Pete the funeral he so richly deserves!
This is a film written, directed and stars Cooper Raiff. He’s also given himself the best part as the ridiculously nice Alex, a boy who seems too good to be true. It might have been a nice twist if he turned out to be a serial killer or at least have some serious kinks in the bedroom, but sadly it seems not to be the case. It feels like he’s a Golden Retriever puppy that has been magically transformed into human form, who just adores everyone he meets. Maggie (Amy Landecker) on the other hand, has been around the block a few times! She knows how these things work and sees their night together for what it is, a night!
The original name of this film was Shithouse. Somewhere along the line, it was decided that this was a bad idea and they reverted to the much more prosaic title of Freshman Year. Is the world still not ready for a film with shit in the title? I guess not.
With a budget of $15,000 this may well be the smallest film release we review this year. After it won the Grand Jury prize at SXSW Film Festival in 2020, the film is getting a limited release this side of the Atlantic. It is an enjoyable film for its honesty. It’s not afraid to show a grown man cry (repeatedly) and also discuss other uncool topics, like how being away from home for the first time can be difficult for young people! It’s an oddity that will more than likely slip through the cracks but it could launch the career of the very fresh-faced Cooper Raiff. I guess Andrew Garfield is well over 30 at this stage!