We all remember our first kisses and heartbreaks, the alternating agony and ecstasy. Mia Hansen-Løve (All is Forgiven
, Father of my Children
), the gifted French writer/director tackles the delicate subject head on in Goodbye First Love
and the result is one of the most truthful and heartfelt films about first love.
Camille (Lola Créton, first seen as a child bride in Catherine Breillat's Bluebeard
) and Sullivan (Sebastian Urzendowsky) are a young couple very much in love. Naturally, for Camille, their love is the greatest love ever existed in the history of mankind. So when Sullivan decides to quit school and embark on a journey to self discovery in South America, she is devastated. Their affair ends in Camille's failed suicide attempt.
Five years pass by and after many menial jobs, Camille finds her calling in architecture and gets romantically involved with her much older professor, Lorentz (Magne Håvard Brekke who played Lars von Trier surrogate in Hansen-Løve's Father of My Children
). This mature relationship is based on mutual and professional respect. Then Sullivan reappears and Camille is once again enamored by the same love that just won't let her go.
Much credit of the film's success should be bestowed upon young Créton. Portraying Camille from age 14 to her early twenties with such honesty and guilessness, she could easily break your heart into a thousand pieces. Hansen-Løve's daring choice of letting her 17 year-old actress playing the same character over five-year span in the film pays off: times and circumstances have changed, so has her hair style. But it's still the same baby-faced, sullen Camille, with her same insecurities and old feelings intact.
Hansen-Løve's careful and patient layering of nuances, visual details and non judgmental eyes, all add up to a beautifully observed growing-up film that is alluring and mature. She continues to be a real talent in capturing life's precious moments with much warmth and care despite their intangibility. Definitely one of my favorites of the year.Goodbye First Love was an official selection at Locarno and New York Film Festival in 2011. It opens at IFC Center in New York on 4/20. For more info and tickets, please visit their website.
Dustin Chang is a freelance writer. His musings and opinions on the world can be found at dustinchang.com
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