A not altogether successful reminder of former glories
There are times when I long for a great new film from France. Gone it seems are the days of Goretta, Chabrol, Truffaut, Malle and Bresson. Sometimes Techine rises to it, but only just. I was reminded a few days ago of what we are missing when I caught up with Mia Hansen-Love's "Goodbye First Love", a film that conveys the ecstasy and pangs of adolescent passion with a delicacy that the French so often manage to achieve with such effortless ease. In short, this could not have come from any other country. I watched the first third which follows the intense relationship of eighteen year old Sullivan and the younger Camille with something of the excitement of rediscovery. Hansen-Love's direction has a fluency and pace that perfectly match the breakneck quality of an affair teetering on the edge of uncertain fulfilment. When Sullivan departs with his mates on a South American backpacking trip Camille is distraught. Her slow recovery and recognition of a different type of love in her relationship with her mature architecture teacher, Lorenz, form the central part of the film. Unfortunately with the absence of a frenetic passion something of the vitality of the first third is lessened and the film becomes an altogether more mundane affair that even Sullivan's return several months later cannot quite rescue from the occasional yawn. What I imagined from the beginning might prove to be a re-run into "La Dentelliere" country ends up as something far less substantial in quality. Today's French cinema, although often still quite distinctive in style, sadly lacks a director of the calibre of those men from the past.
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