French Film Today: Young Love

Written and directed by Mia Hansen-Love, Goodbye First Love (2012), from France, should have been titled by the U.S. “Young Love” (the correct translation of the French title).  But at least it was distributed to the U.S., for it’s a good film.

Fifteen-year-old Camille, played by Lola Creton, is (I’m sorry to say) well acquainted with sex, although she genuinely loves her boyfriend-bedmate, Sullivan (Sebastian Urzendowsky).  He loves her too, or thinks he does, but he goes on an eight-month trip to South America and admits in a letter to Camille that he’s been kissing some girls.  Camille slowly gives up on him.  —Is there love on Sullivan’s part?—  Now older, the girl becomes involved with her architecture instructor, eventually two-timing him, though, after she runs into Sullivan.  The two get together (and get naked) since Camille still loves the young man.  And Sullivan declares his love for Camille, and yet . . .

About these relationships questions are raised.  Whether or not there is love on Sullivan’s part, there is more to his liaison with Camille than sex.  But how much more?  And what is the more?  It seems Camille, for her part, moves from being a lover-in-love (with Sullivan) to being . . . what?  Just a plain lover?

Goodbye First Love does not have the power of such contemporary French films as The Dreamlife of Angels or Skirt Day, but it is personal and lyrical and fresh in its details.  Unlike Clair and Truffaut and Rohmer, Hansen-Love lacks an original style, but this will not prevent her from becoming an important director-scenarist if she persists in fulfilling her promise.  She is pleasingly gifted with both form and content.

(In French with English subtitles)

 

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