Saturday, 5 July 2014

REVIEW - IT FELT LIKE LOVE (ELIZA HITTMAN)


Though so impressively much can be said via so few words, who can guarantee that it hasn't been said before? Not Eliza Hittman, yet this doesn't prevent her feature debut from communicating the emotional and sexual dilemmas of an adolescent girl with empathy and precision. An aloof and unsentimental work, It Felt Like Love demonstrates Hittman's evident command of her craft, but also unreliability regarding creative decision-making. There's an appealing slightness to the mood she designs, neither harsh nor gentle, and she's able to extract an intriguing chilliness from the film despite its warm locale. Her eye cast inward, boring into the mind of her troubled protagonist through use of choice framing far beyond her experience, It Felt Like Love is at once deeply felt and understanding, and dispassionate. And that's a dichotomy which, whether attributable to her lack of experience or not, Hittman cannot amend. One feels that her longing, sensual close-ups are wasted on a film with such a cerebral tone yet such carnal intentions. It ends up looking and feeling like artistic pretension - a shame, given that no individual element of the film is pretentious in itself. If the purpose was to induce a sense of glum reflection, Hittman only succeeds in that it's glum to reflect on a film with so much going for it that ends up having little effect. And a stronger notion of how best to express her ideas would have imbued It Felt Like Love with the heft that they lack: this is an astute depiction of a teenager's awkward maturation, but not a particularly revelatory one, story-wise. The cinematography by Sean Porter is pretty and contemporary in a cliched kind of way; performances are deliberately understated, rather too deliberately, in fact.