REVIEW: Goodbye First Love

22 03 2015

Goodbye First LoveIt’s easy for cinephiles like myself to put foreign cinema on a pedestal, praising it as superior to what the American system churns out year after year.  Much of that praise, however, comes from sampling bias.  Usually, a film has to be pretty good to cross the pond and make waves in the United States.  A visit to a movie theater in France will realign romanticism with reality.  For every “Amour” or “Blue is the Warmest Color,” they have two or three generic, culturally specific studio films.

I say this not to associate Mia Hansen-Løve’s “Goodbye First Love” with such bottom of the barrel but merely to make a point that not every French film is Palme D’Or quality.  Her third feature is artfully made, sure, but it has the sophistication of story that I would associate with a Nicholas Sparks adaptation.

The film follows Lola Créton’s Camille as she falls for Sebastian Urzendowsky’s Sullivan as a teenager, a romance stifled by his imminent departure to find himself in South America.  After he takes off, she seeks to fill the void he left behind – because, obviously, no woman is complete without a man.

Créton does a good job highlighting her character’s insecurities and susceptibility to the affection of the opposite sex.  Hansen-Løve just spends far too long registering her longing.  “Goodbye First Love” could have used less sentimentalism and more bold directorial choices, like that strange aquatic frolicking montage set to “Music for a Found Harmonium” (prominently featured at the close of “Napoleon Dynamite”).  C+2stars

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