There are love stories. Then there are rom-coms. And then there are terrible rom-coms. First Mistake languishes woefully in that last category. This is a film that has a one-night stand at its crux. In other films centred around the same theme, the story will usually have the decency to portray its characters with normal human characteristics. Things like, say, not falling hopelessly in love with the person you had drunken sex with one time—minutes after meeting them in a bar.
Written and directed by DC Brandon, the film explains this away by portraying both its central characters, Jeff (Lee Lopez) and Mimi (Juhi Gupta) as almost pathologically needy people who cannot keep themselves away from bad relationships. One of them has had three bad relationships, each lasting three years since he was 16. The other has had two bad relationships, each lasting four years since she was 15. All things said and done, at least they are a well-suited pair.
At an unbearable 37-minute runtime, First Mistake also comes with the insufferable commentary by the quintessential wingman-dudebro, Jeff’s co-worker and friend, Jake (Rohit Kataria). Written to function as a contrast to the relatively sweeter, more respectable Jeff, Jake is obnoxious. Their counterparts, Mimi and Krista (Natalie Marie), have basically the same conversation when the film begins. Both Mimi and Jeff have gotten out of yet another bad relationship and both are being given the pep talk by their friends Krista and Jake to have mindless hook-ups as a way to flush their systems. But wouldn’t you know it, they find each other. The viewer then spends the rest of the film watching a middling plot try to hook in their attention with a laughably contrived will-they-won’t-they situation.
Both characters give each other a fascinating run for their money to be the most whining person in the film. Krista, at least, is less annoying than Jake, although the character is underwritten and serves to be a prop while Marie’s portrayal is flat. She serves only to give the final push Mimi needs to go get her one true love. Jake gets far more opportunities to keep his friend’s morale up and the character does not grow on you. Daphne Chen’s visualisation is the only halfway decent thing First Mistake has going for itself. Chen plays with soft and mood lighting to create the air the plot tries to build up. The background score features a slew of pop songs to appeal to the viewer’s senses, but with a soupy plot such as this, pop songs can hardly save the film.
There is nothing wrong with flawed characters. They are absorbing and they are viscerally human. That is, when there is a strong story to back them up. First Mistake takes two characters who are so deeply scared of being alone that they are incapable of having one meal by themselves and pits them as the most romantic thing since Casablanca. There is near zero character development. They began as clingy and whiny and ended as the same, now with each other’s company to fill their voids.
Watch First Mistake Short Film