One of the much-vaunted Sundance slate of movies directed by women, "It Felt Like Love" marks yet another micro-budget hand-held look at an adolescent's coming of age. This one is well-shot in HD by director Eliza Hittman, a Cal Arts grad making her feature debut after screening her short "Untitled" at Sundance, with help from D.P. Sean Porter and rookie teen actress Gina Piersanti, who has a future.
Filmed in the Brooklyn area, on the beach and other local environs, the movie is slow, intimate and almost silently observational but eventually its impact builds as this motherless lonely young girl seeks connection via sex with an older guy. Some of Hittman's images are hauntingly memorable. Next up: Rotterdam.
More festival reviews below.
THR: "Piersanti and Hittman jointly hit exactly the right notes in depicting an innocent kid's transparent attempts to seem worldly. Lila reuses Chiara's comments verbatim, bragging to the next-door neighbor about last night's fictional adventures — her lies more pathetic since the boy next door is years younger. Hittman's script draws the kind of borderline encounters — being 'asleep' in the same bed where your best friend is fondling a boy; sitting on the sofa while the guy you like starts to watch porn with his friends — that erode innocence but hardly leave one wiser,..Hittman prefers ambiguity to an explicit depiction of these dangerous encounters, though, and It Felt Like Love is a more affecting movie for her restraint.
FilmSchoolRejects: "Not a complete narrative, It Felt Like Love is more of a quick glimpse into Lila’s life at this moment, during this particular summer, all colored by her thoughts and feelings at the time. Lila comes across as slightly reserved, almost shy, but when she speaks she is commanding and usually says something you would not expect,..Compelling performances from a slightly unknown cast; sparse use of score, but an appropriate amount of hip-hop and popular music that would naturally surround these kid’s worlds; select shots that showcase beautiful cinematography."
ThePlaylist: "Hittman's film doesn't push an agenda on its viewer, but aligns us with the desires, confusions, and frustrations of Lila in such a way as to fully understand the conundrum she finds herself in, and why she might do the things that she does. It's a restrained storytelling that works in this forum, and keeps the film from feeling preachy or overly message-driven, instead choosing to focus on the honesty of the situations,..The film is an intimate and tender look at female sexuality that allows for a feminist interpretation of this scenario that has historically been viewed through a misogynist lens."