Star rating 8/10
This is a very French and understated film about the pain and intensity of young love. Director Mia Hansen-Løve accurately captures the maelstrom of feelings that can be involved in adolescent romance, but treats the subject seriously, without a trace of condescension.
Camille is a 15 year old schoolgirl (and her under age sexual activities are not made an issue of, as perhaps they would be if the film was British) who is in love with Sullivan, a self absorbed and self centred college student. When they are together, all she wants is to know when she will see him again, and all he wants to do is fob her off with vague promises to call her, and make plans for a 10 month trip to South America with his friends.
It’s not that he doesn’t love her, it’s just that his emotions can never match the intensity of hers, leading to fights and squabbles as his trip approaches. The film then tracks Camille through heartbreak, loneliness, and eventually, inevitably, solace in a new relationship as a young woman.
The subtly made, quiet contrast between the way her new lover, an older Norwegian architecture lecturer, views Camille, and expresses his affection for her in a much more mature and liberating way is well done. And then she bumps into Sullivan’s mother on a bus one day and meets up with him. Her old feelings resurface as they clandestinely renew old affections and open up old wounds.
The scenery of rural France and in Paris itself is beautifully captured, and there is a lovely soundtrack, with end credits playing to the beautiful The Water by Johnny Flynn with Laura Marling. It seems to perfectly capture the reflective mood of the film. There are two performances of some depth from young actors Lola Créton and Sebastian Urzendowsky as Camille and Sullivan. And apart from a dodgy short wig which Camille seems to be wearing half way through to signify her leaving her teenage years behind, it handles the time switch well.