An army of Catholic high school girls prepare for their upcoming play while dealing with the ugliness of adolescence and the intrusion of a boy into their drama troupe. Chloe Xtina directs “The First Taste,” an expressive coming-of-age character study about the passions and fascinations of a group of theater kids. Their days are spent with acting exercises, warm-ups, rehearsals, etc. In-between arguments about lines of dialogue or costuming decisions, they find time to socialize about transforming desires and bodies. For a film about girls, the two male presences in the film offer fascinating context. There’s the one male actor in the play, who has the tendency to make everything about him, undermining the goals and interpretations of the girls. And then there’s the issue of the faith-based school, a curriculum that regularly injects worship of a patriarchal God throughout the day (their prayers seem to function more as communal experiences of recitation and chanting than anything else, but it’s still strange to behold). While balancing out the larger contextual, cultural, and gender concerns, Xtina’s film is constructed as a cascade of vivid details, and flashes of style. It’s a film that perfectly captures the vulnerability and naïveté of teenage life — vibrant personalities in the throes of messy transitions, some noticed, others hiding in plain sight.
Director: Chloe Xtina. Cast: Courtney Walls, Yeliz Yoruk, Sara Silva, Autumn Sylve, Riley Quinn Scott, Michael Fajardo. Director of Photography: Michelle Jihyon Kim. Editor: Katie Speare. Production Designer: Charlie Stuip. Producers: Beatrice Brown, Alyssa Grace, Maya Krishnan, Olivia Handrahan.