Michael Apted (who was due for a hit film) directed this fiery film, brilliantly layered scene-on-scene without a wasted frame. The odd camera angles presage the evil that will infect the happy home and put us on an eye-level with the boys whose spats gradually disappear as the two come to rely on each other. [26 Oct 1984, p.21]
It is to the credit of Mr. Apted, and to a cast including some very believable young actors, that Firstborn moves swiftly and smoothly enough to dispel much nitpicking about plot points, at least for a time.
Despite its weaknesses, Firstborn is a movie that deals sensitively with the emotional trials of single-parent families. And it is one of the few that treats adolescents with respect. This film is a must-see for parents and teen-agers and could provoke a long, long talk. [26 Oct 1984, p.C1]
It might have worked if Apted were as adept at creating an emotional atmosphere as he is in his portraiture of the suburban milieu, but too many unshaped scenes and redundant dialogue passages take their toll.