Today is a special day. Today I get the privilege of examining the debut work of my friend, Mesbah Uddin. His first-try film, Freshman Again, was released last week, and his potential is evident. As director, writer, and producer, Uddin took on an immense task filled with challenges, but by grounding his work in characters, places, and situations with which he has great familiarity, he managed to create a highly entertaining piece of film. It’s hard to hide bias when dealing with the work of a friend, but to the hard-hitting questions we go!
Should I pay to see it?
Well, this one is easy. No. Uddin genuinely set out to learn and grow as a filmmaker rather than for “commercial purposes,” as he puts it. Consequently, you can WATCH FOR FREE. You probably wouldn’t regret paying to watch the movie, but if you do so someone has probably tricked you. Take advantage of this opportunity, and let Uddin’s love for film, Tarantino, and much more wash over you. He truly wants to build off of his love for the craft and grow as a member of the movie world.
Could I watch it with a date?
Yes. To give a clearer picture of the work, it follows a college student in turmoil who finds himself thrust backwards in time to freshman year, a time filled with opportunity. Charlie, said college student, struggles to overcome the burdens of his foresight and lingering frustration from relationship which, thanks to his time-warping journey, does not exist. As the leading man, Marc Byrnes shows that he has a keen sense of the oscillations found in the fragile psyches of college students. We learn more about Byrnes’ Charlie than we do about those he befriends and loves, but Uddin’s script blends humor and youthful poignancy well. Watching with a date, especially if you and yours are or recently were college students, will undoubtedly bring laughs; Uddin playfully mocks the music (see: “Turn Down For What), fashion, and behavior of his peers without scorning today’s typical college student. In fact, his pleasantly eclectic editing and cinematography make clear his love for not only his own Georgetown but also for the minute interactions and trivia of daily college life. The scenery and sights and hidden jokes may mean more to fellow Hoyas, but anyone can appreciate the subtleties of Uddin’s characters and their conversations.
Could I watch it with my mother?
Uddin probably didn’t intend for you to do so, but it can’t hurt. Parents may not appreciate the trials and turmoils of modern students, but they can most certainly appreciate Uddin’s awareness of and love for the world of cinema. Pay close attention, and you’ll catch references to everything from Good Will Hunting to Taxi Driver to American Beauty and sense the influences of Quentin Tarantino, Woody Allen, and others. Uddin’s choices with regards to music and, ahem, vulgarity reflect a refreshing freedom, perhaps allowed only to those still rising from the non-commercial ranks of filmmakers who truly love their craft. You’ll hear a delightful mix of hilarious and touching song choices, including standouts such as Coldplay’s “U.F.O” and Dough Hoyer with Jessica Jalbert softly delivering “Oh, The Wind Will Blow.”
Perhaps most importantly, Uddin delivers an inventive and original story told from the perspective of someone closely attached to the world he morphs and distorts. Byrnes, along with Antwan Robinson, come off as real college students rather than stiff actors (It probably doesn’t hurt that they are college students…), and the rest of the cast plays along with Uddin’s adventure, gently meshing youthful sensitivity and light cynicism.
I for one know that Uddin is destined for great things, and you may very well know the same after experiencing Freshman Again. Enjoy the free viewing now. Someday we’ll have to pay to see his work.