I wish I had a movie like Erin’s Guide to Kissing Girls as a kid in elementary school. Aside from its terrific LGBTQ-friendly presence, it sports such self-confidence and reassurance in its characters; all wholesomely written and directed by Julianna Notten making her feature-length debut as a filmmaker. Making as big of a splash is Elliot Stocking, who plays the titular Erin. Stocking, in a breakout acting debut, hits a sweet spot with their co-stars that makes every relationship they have on-screen seem natural, bubbly, and fun.
Erin is out and proud and classmates have accepted this, seemingly, without much animosity (despite some ignorant teasing from a couple of boys). Erin has a tight friendship with Liz (Jesyca Gu) and, as they both approach the end of eighth grade, they’re still trying to figure out their post-elementary relationship as Liz readies herself for athletic interests at an exclusive high school. Erin’s distraction comes in the form of new girl Sydni (Rosali Annikie), a former television star who is trying to reconnect to a normal routine as a regular student. Erin quickly develops a crush on Sydni, but they aren’t too sure of Sydni’s personal preferences or romantic interests. Using a newly-minted self-penned self-help guide, Erin tries to figure out how to approach this chase.
Erin’s Guide to Kissing Girls is sweet with innocence and knowingly cheesy through its awkward moments. Even though the situations are seemingly innocuous, Notten does a good job recognizing the degree of social importance there is to each scene. The plot feels akin to Jude Klassen’s Stupid for You, but this is most likely a coincidence. Besides, if we were to compare that to Klassen’s disappointing lark, Notten finds more resonance with the premise because she has more of a focus on their rom-com’s narrative values. And because of the natural nature of the performances, Erin’s Guide to Kissing Girls doesn’t feel like it’s trying to manipulate the audience’s emotions. This is an authentic indie that could, honestly, help pre-teens as much as it entertains them.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie