My Review on Netflix First Match (2018)
Monique (Mo for short), played tenaciously by Elvire Emanuelle is a struggling orphan seeking out her place in Brooklyn's Brownsville neighborhood. Mo has developed a very tough skin as she has been bounced around from one foster home to another. The story opens as we find Mo in her upper teenage years. She has a propensity to lose her temper and stay in trouble. As friends are few and no one to really call her family Mo is headed down an all to common path of darkness and despair.
As the film moves forward we find that Mo's dad Darrel, played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II was imprisoned for past transgressions. Mo finds much solace in the fact that he would be released from prison in a matter of days and she could move on with her life with him. Her foster brother and only true friend, Omari played by Jharrel A. Jerome gives her balance in this bumpy ride. They came up in the system together helping one another in life and at school. Darrel taught them both how to wrestle when they were kids prior to his imprisonment. This inspired Omari to be on the wrestling team at school
Elvire Emanuelle, "First Match" (2018)
Quickly into the story Mo is left with an ultimatum, shape up or get kicked out of her current foster home. This scares Mo because she is just beginning to try and make sense of things for herself. Mo Must do something, what could be more fitting than to join the boys wrestling team. Obviously this isn't a conventional choice in everyone's eyes, but she gets good at it, really good! One thing is missing however..the approval of her father.
The beauty of films like this one is that we get to see stories told that mainstream society totally ignores. Thousands of children are in the U.S. foster care system waiting for someone to notice them, to love them; Mo is one of those children. All she wants, all she needs is a little approval to let her know she matters. We need more stories like this, stories that show the resilience of young black children who need mothers and fathers to say "Hey! Don't do that..." or "Good job baby girl..." that's what Mo needed.
The reason why you need to see this film is because, it highlights that fact that girls need their fathers. This film shows us that whether or not he is a down on his luck ex-con or the ideal role model, Mo needed her father. She needed that approval, she needed that 1st male figure in her life to show her how beautiful and how ugly the world can be!
"First Match" (2018) is a feature length film based on the 2010 short of the same name. Olivia Newman is the director. Shot against the gritty backdrop of Brooklyn's Brownsville neighborhood, this is an important tale of self discovery. Forget about the ratings on IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes, see this film on Netflix and See how Mo finds her strength as an individual, find out if her father was all that she needed...