Content Warnings: Substance use
Genre: Teen Sapphic Romance
Directed by Sammi Cohen
Written by Kirsten King and Casey Rackham
RATING out of 10 violets, with 1 being the least and 10 being the most pain
1/10 happy violets!
This review contains spoilers.
This may be the most unproblematic queer romance I’ve ever seen. High school student Paige Evans (Rowan Blanchard) teams up with fellow track teammate AJ Campos (Auli’i Cravalho) in order to apprehend the graffiti artist who threatens to get Paige expelled unless she can prove she’s not the one tagging the school. AJ also happens to be the younger sister of Paige’s long-time crush, Gabriela (Isabella Ferreira). When AJ and Paige start getting close, this fact is the only thing that threatens to keep the two apart. See? Unproblematic romance!
The story is light and sweet, and absolutely nothing threatens to bother you (well, maybe Paige’s mom, Angie [Megan Mullally], if you’re particularly wigged out by sex-positive, accepting parents. And maybe excessive PDA of a cringey straight couple). It’s the kind of high school romance movie that would’ve done me a lot of good if it’d come out (pun intended) when I was in middle school.
One of the best things this film does is portray a high school environment in which sexuality and gender is just as unremarkable as hair color and ice cream flavor preference. The high school party the main characters attend is wonderfully queer, and there is not even the slightest trace of homophobia to be found. If anything, these students are more open to non-cishet identities than those of many other high school dramas.
My favorite scene of the film has to be when Paige recalls meeting AJ in elementary school: they were paired together for a class project to take care of an egg. It was love at first sight for Paige. What strikes me about this scene in particular is the fact that they’re showing younger kids with queer crushes, which is something that isn’t often depicted in queer romance. I especially appreciate this scene because it will further normalize the fact that children are more aware of their own gender identity and sexuality than adults are willing to recognize. This is particularly important in a time when legislation such as Florida’s HB 1557 (more commonly known as the “Don’t Say Gay” Bill) purports that children are “too young” to be made aware of topics on gender and sexuality.
While this film isn’t overtly political, it’s going to work wonders for Gen-Z with its diverse representation and its warm embrace of non-cishet identities. This film couldn’t have come at a better time.