Movie review: 'Goodbye First Love' -- 3.5 stars
Goodbye First Love
Directed by Mia Hansen-Love
Starring Lola Creton, Sebastian Urzendowsky
In French with subtitles
"'Tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all," the poet Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote, a truism that's often explored in movies. But "Goodbye First Love," Mia Hansen-Love's new film, unpacks Tennyson's conceit with a tender, character-driven approach that makes it seem like its being done for the first time.
Camille (Lola Creton) and Sullivan (Sebastian Urzendowsky) fall passionately, intensely in love, as teens are wont to do.
But then, suddenly, Sullivan decides to leave France and Camille behind for a journey of self-discovery in South America.
Heartbroken, Camille picks herself up and moves on, studying architecture and falling for her professor Lorenz (Magne-Havard Brekke).
Eight years later, however, Sullivan returns to France and Camille's feelings for him come flooding back.
Favoring evocative montages and restrained, observational camera techniques, Hansen-Love finds her way inside the head and heart of the protagonist.
The film is poignant without being overbearing, emotionally affecting while remaining rooted to the real world.
At the same time, Creton gets us firmly on Camille's side by making her a strong woman who refuses to wallow in self-pity. She's a passionate person with a limitless capacity for love, negotiating her way through life's trials, seeking an elusive happiness.