#Film Review: Netflix’s First Match (2018)

Director: Olivia Newman

Rating: 4/5

This film tackles important issues such as fostering and struggles both foster parents and children go through. It also portrays boxing, wrestling and High School life and thus it has something for everyone.

The story is centered on Mo (Elvire Emmanuele), a troubled fostered child often kicked out from her foster homes. The film starts with one such incident when her foster mom throws her out accusing her she slept with her partner. As it turned out, this was the truth and Mo ends up disappointed to learn that her foster dad has actually returned to his partner. She realises this when she returns to the flat and forces entry to get her stuff. The only thing she is really interested in is her father’s notebook that she treasures. This is because she is waiting for her father to leave prison so that she can live with him, and thus she immediately starts causing trouble to the Spanish Lady (as she calls her new foster mom) by stealing her stuff and returning home late, thus waking up a foster baby.

She suddenly bumps into her dad who actually left prison and starts hanging out with him. He is clearly not keen to spend any time with her and even says so openly. However, she joins wrestling team to get his attention as he used to be a successful wrestler when he was in High school. She does well in wrestling with boys and even joins the team that competes in state competitions. Her father does gain interest in her wrestling and attends matches, which obviously gives her a sense of belonging and she starts believing she will go and live with him once he buys the car wash with his mate who is still in prison. As it turns out, her father asks her to start doing dangerous street fighting with other girls in an underground facility to earn him money to buy the car wash as his mate was refused parole. He uses typical emotional blackmail to force her to fight even though she is afraid and admits she does not want her jaw broken…

The film basically shows that some people should indeed loose custody of their children and be banned from every contact with them. If Mo did not live in the area she would have not got in touch with her father again and fighting would not happen. On the other hand, meeting him again did put her on the right track as she engaged with the school more and thus for what was worth, this new trauma and lack of any compassion or feelings from her father did help her.

The film also tackles how foster children deal with being fostered and how because of the pain they are going through sometimes they fail to recognise good foster parents who would be willing to provide them with a loving home. However lack of ability to cope with loosing biological family, no matter how bad that family is, sometimes prevents them to accept love from someone else.

An interesting film tackling important issues. It could have been faster and there could have been more story other than her conversations with her dad but worth watching nonetheless. On the other hand, it must be emphasised that acting in this film is fantastic. Elvire Emmanuele is excellent in portraying her role, and all other actors are outstanding too. The viewer feels emotions, despair, concern, everything. Absolutely outstanding acting crew and a very good film.

Thank you for reading.

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