Brava, Mia! The exceedingly talented Ms. Hansen-Løve (the writer-director of Father of My Children) is sure to win many more fans with her latest feature, an incisive, exhilaratingly frank examination of l’amour lost. The story opens in 1999, with a carefree sequence in which French teenagers Camille (Lola Créton) and Sullivan (Sebastian Urzendowsky) frolic in bed. They’re young and infatuated, unashamed of their sensuality (in ways American movies often shy away from) and blissfully unaware of the trouble on the horizon.
Once Sullivan leaves for an extended sojourn to South America, the relationship sputters. At this point, the film’s visual palette goes from a summery glow to much grayer shades, and the perspective shifts almost exclusively to Camille. We watch spellbound as, over an emotionally tumultuous decade, she trains to be an architect, is romanced by her older professor (Magne-Håvard Brekke) and pines feverishly for her first love. The alluring Créton more than makes good on the promise she showed in Catherine Breillat’s 2009 adult fairy tale Bluebeard. And Hansen-Løve’s direction is consistently keen and confident; she makes elegant use of visual ellipses—those irises!—to subtly emphasize the emotional toll of Camille’s journey. The character’s slow transition from fragile juvenile to functioning adult is heartbreakingly precise in every detail. This is how you portray adolescence onscreen.
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