Today: February 27, 2024

Goodbye First Love

First love can be a tricky proposition for both its leads and viewers in film.

First love can be a tricky proposition for both its leads
and viewers in film.
For those still pining over how effectively Drake Doremus portrayed it in Like Crazy, with the
kind of can’t-be-without-you love Romeo and Juliet made so famous, Goodbye First Love is likely to be warmly embraced.

Things start
in a warm Parisian 1999 where Camille (Lola
and her boyfriend Sullivan (Sebastian Urzendowsky) are enjoying being young and in love.
However, when he announces he’s heading off to South America for 10 months to
discover himself, she’s distraught. As the months turn into years and the
contact dries up Camille manages to get over him, go to college and meet a new
man. So when, eight years later, Sullivan shows up, how will she react to her
first love’s return?

Writer/director Mia Hansen-Love made a name for herself with the
touching Father of My Children back in 1999, and her follow-up
retains that film’s sense of authenticity, showing young love and heartbreak
with a surprising amount of tenderness, compassion and, as in many a
French film, nudity.

As the
melancholy Camille, Creton saunters around on screen in a state of either lowly
depression or self-pity, to her credit never making the often-whiny character
dull or unlikeable – just sympathetic. Urzendowsky meanwhile is equally
impressive in making Sullivan appealing in an impetuous, boyish way, even
when toying with Camille’s affections at both ends of the timeline.

In-between we
get to see Camille head off to college, impress her professors (in and out of
the bedroom it would appear) and land a decent job as an architect, all the
while looking as fresh as her first incarnation on screen aged 15. Which means
one slight niggle with Goodbye
First Love
is that Hansen-Love fails to capture that sense of time
passing with the same effectiveness delivered from hiring older actors to play
the more adult parts.

However, even
if an ‘older’ Camille and Sullivan look no more aged than their amorous teenage
selves, that doesn’t mean the film isn’t without a lot of charm, tackling as it
does a subject many can empathise with. By ending on a note that
feels genuine, touching and sincere, Goodbye
First Love
is refreshingly not quite as elegiac in dealing with
love as it sounds. A welcome surprise.

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