Often times it is not the person that you miss but the idea of that person, which is what Camille experiences here.
Goodbye First Love
There is nothing overly complicated about the French film Goodbye First Love, a story about a young woman who is torn between two men, one of which is her fist love that she cannot seem to get over. The other represents maturity, stableness, and security. Instead of complexity, writer/director Mia Hansen-Løve instead shows ordinary characters with common relationship quarrels, but the hands-off approach captures authenticity which is the film’s best asset.
It is evident in the opening scene that Sullivan (Sebastian Urzendowsky) and Camille (Lola Créton) love each other. In fact, they adore each other. Sullivan rides his bike on the streets of Paris to pick up a rose and some condoms before stopping at the apartment of 15 year-old Camille. After exchanging loving words it is then implied that the two make love.
Before the 10 minute mark Goodbye First Love sort of throws a curve ball. I say sort of because the title of the film indicates that this would happen. Sullivan reveals that he has plans to backpack around South America with two friends. His mother asks if Camille will be going with them to which his response is no.
Love is all that Camille lives for and she will be the first one to tell you that. She is a bit melodramatic but given that she and Sullivan have been together for a year it is easy to see why she gets frustrated with his lack of dependency on her. She knows that Sullivan is going on this expedition to South American but 10 months to her seems like a life time.
After all the great moments over the year of being together, the couple must say goodbye for a while. Saying goodbye is never easy but when you are an adolescent saying goodbye to your first love it is perceivably the most difficult thing to do in the world. She receives a few letters from him soon after he leaves but the frequency decreases over time until finally she stops getting letters all together.
The film then skips ahead about five years when Camille is in college studying to become an architect. She had no choice but to move on but you still get a sense that she holds on to a little piece of him. As she starts to fall for her much older professor she sees Sullivan’s mother on the bus and leaves her number for him to call.
The two eventually do meet to catch up on things shortly after. Neither of them are outwardly excited to see each other. He does apologize for hurting her way back when but both agree that what they felt back then now feels like a different person in a different live. But still she cannot stop loving him and she cannot figure out why.
Often times it is not the person that you miss but the idea of that person, which is what Camille experiences here. You miss what that person represents even though the person may not be right for you. I think we have all realized at one point that the things we hang on to are sometimes silly and unexplainable but for one reason or another we still cling.
You will see nothing but what would occur in everyday life in Goodbye First Love. To some viewers that will be frustrating as they may be expecting the film to introduce a movie like consequence that dramatically changes the plot. I suspect they would pass the film off as boring instead of appreciate how real life like it is.
Lola Créton was terrific in her performance playing the girl that could not shake her first love. Her character often demanded teary-eyes and lustfulness but on the flip side she is depressed for more than half of the film. Créton does not miss a beat.
Do not go into Goodbye First Love expecting more out of the plot than what the title suggests. It is a very accurate depiction of first love and how difficult it is, if ever, to let go of it. The French director used healthy amounts of symbolism in the film, most notably when the hat Sullivan buys for her travels down the river. But the best thing the film accomplishes is how it was able to capture the heartache of adolescent love without pulling any over-the-top stunts.