Working-class south Brooklyn, scrappy and sweaty during an oppressive summer, is the setting for Eliza Hittman’s otherwise generic tale of burgeoning female sexuality. Shy Lila (Gina Piersanti), barely 14, looks on from the sidelines as her more confident friend, Chiara (Giovanna Salimeni), gets intimate with her boyfriend, the two of them constantly horndogging at the beach and in strangers’ bedrooms. Setting her sights on buff, aloof Sammy (Ronen Rubinstein), Lila tenses to make the first awkward move; we tense along in nervous sympathy.
Debuting feature director Hittman scores points for her nonprofessional cast, as free of art as the ramblers in Kids. It must also be stressed how nice it is to spy on an earthy outer-borough culture that’s the polar opposite of Lena Dunham’s hyperverbal Girls. Still, the filmmaker has fallen for some of indiedom’s worst clichés, including our main character’s sad stare out to the ocean, and soft camerawork that’s beginning to sound like a Klaxon: Hug me, hug me, hug me.
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