Love stories can go either one of two ways: the long, sweet and syrupy route or the honest, gritty and realistic route. Goodbye First Love takes the latter road and the results are absolutely charming. Spoken in French and subtitled in English, expect to pay close attention to the film’s dialogue. The actors give lovely performances and the lighting and photography are truly gorgeous. Goodbye First Loveis a bittersweet tale of romance that sheds light on a very tender subject: young love.
The film begins in Paris 1999 and follows young, sweet Camille (Lola Créton), a 15 year-old girl who has a lustful relationship with a boy named Sullivan (Sebastian Urzendowsky). Their romance is very physical but with sincere moments of tenderness. All of this captured in the first few minutes of the film quite well. They appear naked and chase one another throughout a house. They galavant in the French countryside and seem like they don’t have a care in world, living in the moment and enjoying one another’s company.
Camille eventually grows and matures in a confident young adult. She attends college for architecture and soon begins a new relationship, this time with her professor and mentor Lorenz, played by the very talented Magne Håvard Brekke. The film follows Camille as she navigates the rough waters of romance and adulthood. She is a complex character with a seemingly simple exterior and the audience is in for a treat as we follow her on her interesting journey.
Goodbye First Love is a beautiful film about a topic everyone struggles with and embraces at some point or another in life: love. It occurs most often in younger people and that is what we see with Camille. Her passionate relationship with Sebastian seems somewhat superficial and temporary. They enjoy each other’s company but not as much as having sex.
When Camille enters college and begins seeing Lorenz, we witness a transformation, a change in her attitude on love and on life. Being with an older man means that her responsibilities are becoming more mature. It is a truly fascinating transition, subtle and realistic.
The actors in Goodbye First Love are nothing short of fantastic. Lola Créton (Bluebeard) is mesmerizing as the main character Camille and carries the film rather well. Sebastian Urzendowsky (The Way Back) is okay as the sexual Sebastian. His acting is a little wooden but this doesn’t exactly limit the film’s quality. The real star here is Magne Håvard Brekke (A Few Days in September). His portrayal of Lorenz is so intense and real that it actually seems like his character is going to leap off the screen. One may mistake the actor for Hugo Weaving (The Matrix) because both actors look almost identical.
Director Mia Hansen-Løve (Father of My Children) has painted an extraordinary picture here.Goodbye First Love is filled with gorgeous shots of the French countryside and there are scenes that are just absolutely beautiful. The images of sunlight hitting Camille and Sebastian’s faces are really out of this world. If you want to see cinematography at it’s best, then look no further than Stéphane Fontaine (The Next Three Days) who is an absolute genius when it comes to motion picture cinematography. Basically, the entire film is a canvas and Fontaine and Hansen-Løve have painted a breathtaking picture here.
Goodbye First Love is a very good film. Being a foreign indie picture, it may fall into the cracks of big budget Hollywood crap but then again, it may go on to win Best Foreign Language Film at next year’s Oscars. Only time will tell but right now, this is the film to see. With an awesomely genuine and sincere performance from Mr. Magne Håvard Brekke and a filmmaking job that might make you weep, so far Goodbye First Love is the film of the year wether you speak French or not.