Thursday, June 7, 2012
Review of GOODBYE FIRST LOVE (2012)
- Not rated but contains full frontal nudity.
- Starring Lola Creton, Sebastian Urzendowsky, Magne-Havard Brekke
- Written & Directed by Mia Hansen Love
- Running time: 1hr 50min.
This small independent French film has been making it's rounds on the festival circuit over the past year. It follows the lives of 2 lovers. Camille is just 15 and Sullivan is a little older. They have a pretty intense relationship which is typical of young love. They love each other so much that they make each other miserable. One day, Sullivan decides to go on a 10 month expedition to find out what he wants to be in life, which devastates Camille. Sullivan tries to convince her that nothing will change, but of course it does. He writes to her often at first, but then the letters come less frequently, eventually admitting that he cheats on her and doesn't plan on coming back. Years later Camille becomes an Architect and begins a relationship with her (much older) professor. So it's been like 10 years and everything seems fine... then Sullivan comes back into Camille's life. Will it still be the same?
The premise has all the making for a tragic and moving love story, but unfortunately the execution is tedious and boring. For most of the movie, nothing happens. In fact, the first half felt like it was composed entirely of second unit footage. Lots of shots of the city, skies, and looking out windows. It was like a travelogue of Paris. But not much character interaction, unless Camille and Sullivan are fighting. They are so not right for each other. Maybe that was the point, but either way it's not very fun to watch. There just isn't much chemistry between the two actors, but we really aren't given a chance to see why they were together in the first place. There's hardly any scenes of them having conversations or anything like that. Just them looking at each other naked. That's not chemistry, that's the screenwriter not knowing what to have the characters say to each other.
Then the movie jumps around a few years every 20 minutes or so. What for? Big deal! We really don't get any more insight by doing this. Most of the focus is on Camille during the middle hour of the film, and she's not very interesting. She just walks around looking sad and confused while an old geezer professor seduces her. I didn't see Camille being attracted to him. I didn't buy it. Then when Sullivan and Camille reconnect, it's still clear they don't belong to each other. But at the end of this I finally just asked myself, "Why should I even care?". Good point, me. Why do I even care if any of this makes sense cause it was just so poorly paced and boring. And I didn't like the characters, so yeah, why care?
The acting isn't bad. Sebastian Urzendowsky is decent as Sullivan, but the real find is Lola Creton. She has a great natural ability and is so beautiful. I found out after the screening that she was only 17 when they filmed this (and she's fully nude). That was kind of disturbing, but it made sense why she looked unconvincing as a college grad student whose supposed to be in her late 20's. But she is a talented actress giving an honest and fragile performance. The direction isn't awful. I liked the low budget natural look. There are some individual beautiful shots in this, but most of that is from the second unit stuff. This movie was in the need of a good editor. There were many scenes that just has characters staring off into nothing for minutes at a time. I didn't see a point for most of it. It just made the film seem super long.
I think there were good intentions involved here, and I think the actors thought they were making something special, but the filmmaking is indulgent and the running time bloated. I can respect the director for the effort, but it felt too much like a self important student film.
** (out of ****)