SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL 2013
By Don Simpson | January 22, 2013
Director: Eliza Hittman
Writer: Eliza Hittman
Starring: Gina Piersanti, Giovanna Salimeni, Jesse Cordasco, Ronen Rubinstein, Richie Folio, Andrew McCord, Case Prime, Nick Rosen
Lila (Gina Piersanti) exists somewhere in that uncomfortable place between being a girl and becoming a woman. Her girlish appearance and awkward manner (exemplified by her cold and wooden dance movements) seem to suggest that she still has some maturing to do; she is very cute, but boys are not quite driven to her. This is made especially apparent whenever she is around her best friend, Chiara (Giovanna Salimeni), whose maturity has progressed at astronomical proportions.
Chiara is a sexually active girl whose mere presence exudes sexual energy. Lila, on the other hand, only exudes naïveté; but being around Chiara makes Lila want to dive headfirst into the deep end of the sexual pool. As she desperately tries to find a partner in sex, Lila finds herself in some dangerous situations. Luckily for her, boys do not find her desperation to be appealing, only comical, and they see right through her lying boasts of promiscuity.
Writer-director Eliza Hittman’s It Felt Like Love takes an observational perspective on teenage sexuality, never explicitly telling us what to think. For example, the film never judges teenage sex, but it does present situations that the audience may deem to be inappropriate behavior. The most heavy-handed critique in It Felt Like Love is the role that music plays in all of this. The rap music that we hear is so graphically sexual that it seems to be brainwashing the kids.
It is purely natural for some girls to mature faster than other girls and this developmental imbalance can add a lot of pressure to the less mature girls. Additionally, since girls typically mature faster than boys, the girls are forced to throw themselves at older, more experienced boys. Drug and alcohol use by young teenage girls may also contribute to their bad decisions and add fuel to their hormonal fire.
First and foremost, I love the visual elements of It Felt Like Love: Lila’s geisha-like face, whitened by sunscreen; her not-quite-form-fitting, one-piece swimsuit; the props she chooses to look more mature. Concepts like self-expression, self-confidence and identity are photographed with a dreamlike gaze as It Felt Like Love beautifully captures burgeoning sexuality and the brevity of youth; it is like a reminiscence of the past that takes place in the present.