Words by Oliver Lunn
Goodbye First Love
Mia Hansen-Løve lives up to her name with a romantic odyssey that feels very close to home. As the title of Mia Hansen-Løve’s latest – and perhaps most autobiographical – film suggests, it’s all about saying farewell to that first love; no easy task at that age, as I’m sure we all remember. No easy task for a film-maker, either. But Løve’s intimate touch, together with some exceptional performances, make it one of the better films about adolescence and heartbreak. Camille and Sullivan are a young couple in love. They have a lot of sex; they both have poofy hair (yes it’s a French film). Sullivan, being the free spirit that he is, decides to go travelling around South America for ten months. Needless to say
the news comes as devastating to Camille, for whom Sullivan is ‘everything’ to. In his absence the girl traces his every move on a map in her bedroom. Soon the letters don’t come anymore; months turn into years. For the girl, moving on is unthinkable. Her only comfort now comes from her architecture class, not least because of her fondness for her tutor (hint, hint). Years later still, and her first love returns. Is he still the irreplaceable one she previously knew?
Goodbye First Love is, in a way, a film that actually says “Hello, Old Love”. Even though it’s not told in flashback, it’s got a reflective feel to it, as if we’re revisiting one of the more
“It’s hard not to imagine the film as autobiographical for its director. Such depth and insight can only come from real-life experiences”
dramatic moments in this girl’s life. As such, it’s hard not to imagine the film as autobiographical for its director, the rather sexy Mia Hansen- Løve (The Father of My Children). Such depth and insight can only come from real-life experience. And it’s probably this looking-back aspect which makes the film so appealing and universally personal.
Despite the fact that it’s told from the girl’s point of view, I completely identified with her – even if I did find myself saying, “Christ, girl, give it time! You’ll get over him,” etc. But she’s almost charmingly tenacious, completely unable to get him out of her system. The only thing that really keeps her going, gives her life meaning, is her interest in architecture – incidentally it kind of fits in with my own theory about relationships: they suck the artistic juices dry. You need that psychological (and physical) space in order to create. Of course there are exceptions, but they’re few, I’m telling you In terms of filmic comparisons, Ozu comes
to mind for subtlety and intimacy – that and the use of trains passing through the frame. There’s also a hint of some of the more sensitive New Wave directors – maybe Truffaut. Come to think of it, there’s an interesting invocation of Eric Rohmer (or someone of similar ilk) when the couple come out of a cinema, each with differing views on an unknown film; the boy dismisses it as ‘so French,’ saying there’s ‘too much talking,’ while the girl praises its profundity – must’ve been good ol’ Rohmer. I was quietly blown away by Goodbye First Love, probably because – aside from the fact that I’m a bit in love with its director – I could bring my own memories to it, project my own experience onto the screen. Coincidentally, an ex-girlfriend called me as I walked home from the screening; I laughed to myself (mentally), thinking: This is great material for my review! Although, I don’t think I’ll make the same mistake as the characters. Goodbye First Love is screening on the 22 & 23 March courtesy of Artificial Eye