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Spanning decades and emotions, Goodbye, First Love follows fifteen-year-old Camille (Lola Créton) on her unpredictable and at times very heart breaking love story with the cheerful Sullivan (Sebastian Urzendowsky), an older boy who reciprocates her feelings. Well, mostly.
Sullivan wants to be free to explore the world and upon informing Camille of his plans to travel alone through South America, she is left devastated.
As we watch eight years pass, Camille develops into a more rounded out, focus woman with a new interest and budding career in Architecture and a developing romance with an older professor. Cue Sullivan’s reappearance in her life.
When he walks back into her life – or, tellingly, rides back in like a teenager still with his bike – Camille is lured back to the past. What we get is as an intriguing intellectual structure, with the natural world that dominates the first half of the movie replaced by an intense concern with design and architecture as Camille sets about both rebuilding her emotional life and forging a career.
Camille is not an especially easy girl to love because of her intensity and, in her teenage years, a selfishness, self-pity and neediness that would drive away any man, despite Lola Creton’s mesmerising Pre-Raphaelite beauty, yet Creton, who is best known for Catherine Breillat’s Bluebeard, breaks through her character’s rather severe surface with a burst of passion that will break your heart, an upsurge of desire that that sends her tumbling back to the place where nothing mattered but the river, the mountains and the boy at her side.
Filled with scenes that showcase her extraordinary ability to evoke moods and feelings, director Hansen-Løve takes the story of a girls first love and makes it into a singular experience. It feels uniquely special as it enlists the use of such broad strokes highlighted by emotions and experiences that are particularly specific.
The setting of this film is almost a character itself, the Garden of Eden from where the young couple ejected by the onset of adulthood, yet to which they are both constantly drawn back, evokes a strong and exhilarating emotional energy from the viewer – as exhilarating as it is entrapping.
Camille’s original innocence and naivety (some would argue stupidity if they had not been to the same place themselves), “the only thing I care about is love” and a suicide attempt after he sends her a break up letter gives way to a much more developed character which Creton plays extremely well, particularly as she begins to realise that Sullivan was never quite as committed to her as she was to him.
Lorenz (Magne-Havard Brekke – captivating performer), the floppy-haired, charismatic Norwegian professor guides the recovering young woman into a personal and professional maturity, and I believe Brekke adds a great deal more dimension to this film.
I would definitely recommend this film to Nicholas Sparks fans and anyone who enjoys a bit of nostalgia.