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Goodbye First Love

Un amour de jeunesse

Directed by Mia Hansen-Love

France, 2011

Cornerhouse, 5 May 2012

Goodbye First Love

There’s a terrific moment here where the young couple, Camille and Sullivan – still, it seems, very much in love – go to see a French film.

She is enraptured and moved afterwards, loves it lots.  Whereas he finds it typically French, perhaps even Parisian, talky and pretentious.  It could be this film they are discussing, or another (say, Truffaut’s La peau douce) which it echoes.

Whilst training to be an architect, Camille is told in a seminar one day that architecture is unlike other arts in that it aims to build habitable spaces, houses that people must live in.  Architects cannot be concerned with beauty alone, art for art’s sake.  Human comfort must be their priority.  It’s a key scene, a coda for what the film is all about.

The question addressed is whether you should go for a love that’s a grand passion, one which ultimately may turn out to be unhealthy and obsessive (as Romeo and Juliet’s was, let’s be frank), or settle for a pragmatic alliance, a relationship that’s moderate and maybe mundane, but comfortable and workable in the long run.  At first glance only would you describe this film as lyrical and poetic; that’s its surface charm.  It is actually as acerbic and excoriating a look at love as they come.  A smart, even a wise film, fully aware that it costs a lot to (l)earn even a smidgeon of wisdom.

There are excellent performances all around, in particular from Lola Creton as Camille.