It Felt Like Love Screen 18 articles

It Felt Like Love


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  • The wispy, stylishly directed, virtually plotless portrait of teenage confusion that follows recalls any number of other films, many of them French; in some ways, it plays like a more circumspect version of a Catherine Breillat picture, with a similarly unsentimental take on nascent female sexuality. Breillat’s rawness is intrinsic to her work, though, and first-time writer-director Eliza Hittman hasn’t found anything comparatively distinctive here.

  • Debuting feature director Hittman scores points for her nonprofessional cast, as free of art as the ramblers in Kids. It must also be stressed how nice it is to spy on an earthy outer-borough culture that’s the polar opposite of Lena Dunham’s hyperverbal Girls. Still, the filmmaker has fallen for some of indiedom’s worst clichés, including our main character’s sad stare out to the ocean, and soft camerawork that’s beginning to sound like a Klaxon: Hug me, hug me, hug me.

  • ...That's ultimately what kept me from fully embracing "It Felt Like Love": it does one thing very, very well, but the point-of-view, visual as well as thematic, feels too constrained, at times too forced. There's more to adolescence than this. There's more to sex than this. There's more to life than this. As a very gentle polemic, the movie succeeds. But as a story, and as a character portrait, it's unsatisfying.

  • It’s easy to be seduced by the loosely observational vibe of the movie, even as its tale of a shrinking violet struggling not to be a late bloomer fails to strike more than a single note of dismay. Will Lila complete her rite of passage? By the end, audiences may end up craving a more charitable, less dour study of teenage mating habits—one, like the less “realistic” Raising Victor Vargas, that doesn’t portend trauma for any sapling trying to blossom too soon.

  • This is Hittman's first feature, and I sense that she's still learning how to shape her ideas into dramatic form. Many of her performers have limited screen experience, and while Hittman succeeds in getting them to do potentially humiliating things on camera, they rarely register as naturals (as Clark's kids often do) or as suggestive, opaque mysteries, like the inexperienced performers of Robert Bresson or Bruno Dumont.

  • Painfully, painfully self-conscious - the slo-mo, the extreme, random close-ups of teenage skin, the opening scene with heroine at the beach and turning to camera, white sunscreen pasted on her face like a sad pierrot primed for suffering - but it probably wouldn't work at all if it were smarter (the forensic Breillat style wouldn't fit this dynamic)... Hittman is flashy, sloppy and gives the impression of being unconstrained by good taste, which is probably a good thing.

  • [It Felt Like Love] fully embraces the swirling languor of a girl’s sexual awakening. And like Obvious Child, it challenges the protective impulses of patriarchal viewership, acknowledging the kind of agency that can be drawn from female vulnerability, and that can turn that vulnerability into its own form of strength.

  • First-time writer-director Eliza Hittman elides any traditional drama from this very specific, very unpleasant story, opting instead to accumulate pungent detail, building an ever-thicker atmosphere of uncomfortable eroticism in the space around Lila. Movies tend to follow certain codes in their representations of sex and sexual bodies, but It Felt Like Love has its own carnal calculus, premised on the gap between what a teenager wants to do and what she wants to have done.

  • Hittman expresses these meanings to us entirely visually, and the elegant camera movements achieve a haunting contrast between the film's formality and its subject matter. Simply, the tracking shots and close-ups are characterized by a sensuality that the characters have yet to acquaint themselves with... It Felt Like Love is a tonic for a pop culture that mindlessly offers us barely post-teenage human objects for our delectation on a minute-by-minute basis.

  • Among too many coming of age movies, It Felt Like Love is striking in the originality, the justness of its tone... Hittman’s film finely suggests the mixture of confusion and lust that composes the internal landscape of a young girl.

  • Like [Hittman's] short film Forever’s Gonna Start Tonight (2011), [It Felt Like Love] adopts an unflinching look at the awkward steps towards sexual self-discovery as taken by a teenage heroine with equal measures of naïve eagerness and uneasy hesitation.

  • With a sure sense of place, Hittman moves the action from sidewalks and subways to marshlands suggestive of idylls and mysteries, and lightly sketches Lila’s complex bonds with her widowed father (Kevin Anthony Ryan) and the too young boy next door (Case Prime). Keeping the camera in audacious proximity to her actors’ bare skin and revealing the confident caste of people at ease with their bodies, the director portrays her protagonist as a permanent outsider.

  • While there’s nothing unusual about seeing a teenager trying to break free of the unindividuated and invisible state of childhood, the way in which it unfolds in [the film] is deeply uncomfortable... [Its] palpable expression of pain, driven home by Hittman’s skillful framing, conveys not only the gap between media expectation and reality that Lila... has fallen into, but that her single-minded pursuit of affection has rendered her incapable of considering anyone else’s feelings but her own.

  • Held together with few words and only the loosest of narratives, this insightful first feature from Eliza Hittman unspools mostly in sensual (but never salacious) close-ups and dreamy tracking shots. Using a soft light that makes skin tones sing, Sean Porter photographs the mainly young cast with an easy intimacy that highlights his director’s highly intuitive points.

  • As hazy as her motivation is, her sexuality is a complete vision of teen obsession and desire... Like an only child FAT GIRL, IT FELT LIKE LOVE hovers on the brink of debasement, never providing an easy emotional answer, and never letting you look away either.

  • With Hittman’s low-key storytelling well-served by Sean Porter’s ethereal cinematography and star Gina Piersanti’s laconic expressiveness, It Felt Like Love has a slow-burning momentum that makes it one of the most involving and sensually lush debuts in recent memory, and a striking afterimage for all of Sundance.

  • Approximating its protagonist’s eavesdropping perspective, Love is a film of curious, furtive, longing close-ups, while the circuitous rhyming of images proves that there’s nothing haphazard about Hittman’s approach. Chronicling Lila’s cruel, sentimental education, Hittman shows an acute sense of crawly, mortifying humor—though never squelches sympathy for a laugh.

  • With its oblique yet unashamed view of sexuality, lack of hand-wringing, and intimate, caressing camerawork, It Felt Like Love feels like the work of a proto Claire Denis or Olivier Assayas, rather than reminiscent of the less visually acute, more garrulous roster of today’s American independent filmmakers.

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