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Goodbye First Love

Goodbye First Love

Released 4 May 2012
Director Mia Hansen-Løve

Lola Créton, Sebastian Urzendowsky, Magne-Håvard Brekke, Valérie Bonneton, Serge Renko, Özay Fecht, Max Ricat
Writer(s) Mia Hansen-Løve
Producer(s) Philippe Martin, David Thion
Origin France, Germany
Running Time 110 minutes
Genre Drama, romance
Rating 15A

Young hearts.

Love is hard. It has its ups and downs and rarely works out the way we wish. But on the plus side even the most heartrending affairs of the heart can provide material for a good story. This area of human interaction may have been mined to death by the film industry by now, but Goodbye First Love goes a long way to proving its worth as an original tale.

The heart of this film is Lola Créton, who is absolutely captivating in the lead role of troubled heroine Camille. When we first meet Camille she is fifteen years old and madly in love with the older Sullivan, who is preparing to leave Paris to travel South America. The loss crushes her, and defines Camille’s emergence from adolescence and painful transition into adulthood, which the aptly titled film chronicles.

However despite a standard romantic set-up, Goodbye First Love defies classification. It is riddled with moments of light comedy and melodrama, but also haunted by troubling dark undertones – there are references to rape, underage sexual encounters, depression and suicide. The poignant journey of Camille is tender and realistic, and beautifully handled by director Mia Hansen-Løve.

Visually Goodbye First Love is an absolute treat. It is wonderfully shot throughout, from the darkness of Paris in winter to the bright and beautiful Loire Valley in high summer. The whole film is like a series of expressionist landscapes – both alluring and charged with emotion. The cinematography is powerful enough to carry the meaning of the many whole scenes devoid of dialogue.

While no doubt a work of deep and well considered art, Goodbye First Love is also plagued with niggling flaws. Far too much time is spent on the process of establishing the characters, leaving the real heart of the film squeezed into a slightly rushed finale. The whole story of Goodbye First Love takes place in the third act, with the first two acts doing little but providing the context. While this context building is sublimely acted and beautifully shot, it is far longer than necessary. It is no doubt Mia Hansen-Løve’s intention to craft a layered character piece which relies more on the development of emotions rather than the conventional structure of a plot, but Goodbye First Love remains somewhat unbalanced. There is a good story here, with plenty of much needed originality, but perhaps there was a better way to tell it.

- Bernard O’Rourke