Actress-turned director Mia Hansen-Løve’s romantic drama, “Un Amour de Jeunesse” [Eng. Title: Goodbye First Love] is a subdued affair, almost Scandinavian in style. The film is ambitious in scope even if it is aimed at a predominantly young-adult audience – one can see Ms. Hansen-Løve’s sincere effort to stay clear from stereotypical film-making. It may have a nostalgic air about it, but she’d made sure it doesn’t go over-the-top with customary trappings like cheesy music and sentimentalism – in fact music is sparingly used throughout the film, natural sound in their relevant environment is used wherever possible, and what little music we hear, is thoughtfully chosen. I think Ms. Hansen-Løve is talented with great potential, one which could perhaps be realised fully with a more serious subject, and I’d be looking forward to see what she does next.
It’s a simple story elegantly told. Camille and Sebastian are childhood sweethearts – their first love, and by their mid-teens they’re also sexually active. When Sebastian decides to travel South America to ‘find’ himself, fifteen year old Camille reluctantly accepts the inevitable separation. After he leaves, she misses him terribly, only managing to get by through his letters. But they gradually become less frequent and the letters stop altogether, and when he doesn’t return to Paris after his travels Camille gets depressed and nearly commits suicide. She wouldn’t get into another relationship for five years, until she falls in love and moves in with her university professor, soon to become one of his employees as a budding architect. Sebastian returns to Paris and meets Camille after more years, and when they do, we see Camille’s feelings towards him still hasn’t changed, and they end up meeting in secret, knowing well their affair will only be short-lived, until they’re really ready for each other’s love…
The film has a few things going for it – its excellent cinematography, good editing, decent music, and not least the young actress playing Camille – Lola Créton is absolutely charming in her role and keeps our attention through her natural looking performance and grace – a fine casting choice. Recommended Viewing.