Sunday, 6 April 2014

Goodbye First Love (2011) - Film Review

goodbye first love, un amour de jeunesse, film review, lola cretonStarring: Lola Creton and Sebastian Urzendowsky

Synopsis: Set in early 00s Paris, Goodbye First Love (Un amour de jeunesse) chronicles the 8 year long on and off again relationship of Camille and Sullivan, spanning their late teenage years to the onset of young adulthood. The film is a tender and intimate look at the dynamics between the couple, with Camille both petulant and needy in her lovesick state and deeply resentful of Sullivan when he announces plans to travel abroad. Heartbroken for what she perceives as abandonment, Goodbye First Love follows Camille and Sullivan as they discover who they are, together and apart.


Goodbye First Love is much more Camille's story than Sullivan's. Once Sullivan leaves for his travels, much of the film is committed to the paths Camille follows in her attempt to forget and grow without him. Taking on a hotch potch of jobs without any real meaning or connection, we follow Camille as she trains to become an air hostess, her time as a tacky club rep and finally her settling to a career in architecture. Seemingly the lost soul of the story for wandering aimlessly from one vocation to the next, it is Camille who is very much her own driving force.

Whilst Sullivan is in South America in his self proclaimed state of self-discovery, Camille does the same in the very milieu Sullivan found so cloying. Here is the bittersweet realisation that ironically, for all his aloofness and detachment, it is Sullivan who doesn't know what he wants. However it seems Camille is always looking for Sullivan. Whereas she asserts her independence and identity away from their relationship, his impending returns are marked by an almost physical regression. Whilst sporting a suitably Parisian, gamine cropped hair style during their time apart, Camille's hair grows back to its rakishly longer style, hinting at the juvenility of first love. Alone she is stronger and less reliant on the affection of another. The cropped hair signifies the shedding of her former self - the one interminably tied to Sullivan.

goodbye first love, un amour de jeunesse, film review, lola creton  Lola Creton wears melancholy with an exacting, Parisian-esque manner. Needy and attached, the rest of the world including her mother and father in their loveless marriage and even the aloof Sullivan, are benign in comparison. With this the film captures the all too familiar teenage angst of young love, but without vanity and with just enough self indulgence to let us empathise with the characters. Whereas we can appreciate Sullivan's need for exploration and his aloofness at Camille's capricious nature and impetuous moods, we also sympathise with her resentment at his detachment.

Set to the backdrop of bohemian Paris, with its artsy apartments or else idllyic countryside locations, with a gorgeous soundtrack including the languorous 'The River' by Johnny Flynn and Laura Marling, Goodbye First Love has a delicate feel to it, hard to grasp and articulate - perhaps a bit like the tenuous bond between Camille and Sullivan.

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