It's funny how 'real life' sometimes conforms so closely to hackneyed patterns of screenwriting.
| Original Score: 2/5
The First Grader is every bit as inspiring and heart-warming as you'd expect.
| Original Score: B+
The filmmaking is ... uneven, filled with charming picture-postcard scenes of smiling children and African sunshine that seem crafted for a different film than one with moments of horrific flashbacks.
| Original Score: 2.5/4
The story is uplifting in a predictably pro-education, antiwar, feel-good way, warmth and humor balancing the heavy moments.
Stow your cynicism and give this lesson in continuing education the response it deserves -- more than a polite clap, maybe even a sitting ovation.
| Original Score: 3/4
It's a middle-of-the-road film.
| Original Score: 1.5/4
You marvel all the more at Litondo's and Harris's performances, considering how much claptrap Ann Peacock's script requires them to put up with.
| Original Score: 2/4
Strong performances and a stripped-down visual aesthetic help mitigate some of the movie's potential mawkishness.
Director Justin Chadwick filmed in Kenya, and his imagery, as well as the faces of the schoolchildren, and of Litondo, all of them nonactors, is far more expressive than the formulaic script.
| Original Score: B-
Too bad the script is predictable at every turn.
Chadwick shows admirable restraint bringing this true story to the screen, and Litando does much with glimmers of emotion and wells of dignity.
| Original Score: 3/5
A tearful, joyful, imperfect, yet nearly irresistible ode to the human spirit.
| Original Score: 4/5
Fascinating and frustrating in almost equal measure.
The First Grader plays more like a teaching tool than a dynamic drama.
| Original Score: C+
A lot of history gets horned into this undeniably inspirational parable, though slick execution and simplistic storytelling make it a lesson suitable only for easily impressed elementary-school students.
Although the arc of the story might be familiar, the setting and characters are fresh.