Actor turned director, Mia Hansen-Løve, 31, follows up her last feature, “The Father of My Children,” a story of professional obsession, with “Goodbye First Love,” which leans in close to observe a romantic obsession.
Camille (Lola Créton) is mad for her older boyfriend Sullivan (Sebastian Urendowsky), 19, who reciprocates her feelings but side-steps the monomania that grips her. She says, “I spend my life waiting for you”–she’s 15. Frantically longing for phone calls and their next rendezvous, Camille descends into a suicidal depression after Sullivan leaves school to travel in South America.
Fast forward–with one cut–several years, and Camille is studying architecture, imposing structure on the world to balance her less than orderly psyche. Emotional progress is recorded in a entry in her journal, “Solitude isn’t weighing me down for once.” As more time passes she enters into both a romantic and professional partnership with a former professor. And then Sullivan surfaces.
Hansen-Løve’s cliche-busting, unsentimental look at young love prevents Camille’s continuing emotional chaos from being maddening, watching until the young woman finds a kind of balance and herself. During a mid-film visit to a club, a bit of a lyric, “from happiness to loneliness,” is heard. The soundtrack at the end of the film features Johnny Flynn’s “The River”:
The water sustains me without even trying The water can’t drown me, I’m done With my dying
“Goodbye First Love” will open on Friday, April 20 in New York at the Lincoln Plaza Cinemas and the IFC Center.