The kind of film that a lot of people try to make, yet few rarely succeed in making.
It Felt Like Love
It Felt Like Love is an indie coming-of-age story about a young girl’s sexual exploration from first-time filmmaker and writer Eliza Hittman. With the help of an incredibly talented young cast, Hittman delivers a brutally honest film that illustrates the social pressures that come with gender and age. It Felt Like Love feels like a personal film with how much detail goes into the intimacy of its subject, yet the film appeals to anyone who has endured the social difficulties that come with being a teenager.
During a blistering Brooklyn summer, a teenager named Lila (Gina Piersanti) feels the heat of playing the third wheel to her more sexually experienced best friend Chiara (Giovanna Salimeri) and her boyfriend. The camera focuses on Lila as she sits alone on the beach gazing ahead as her friend romantically caresses and makes out with her boyfriend. Each time the couple touch is another painful reminder to Lila that she is single. The timing of this is challenging because she is desperate for her own sex life to begin, which leads her to promiscuously latch on to an older guy she makes eye contact with on the beach. She seems to gravitate towards treacherous situations, a relatable scenario.
Films often portray vulnerable women who are physically forced to commit sexual acts, however, It Felt Like Love explores how society pressures people into dangerous situations. Lila feels the need to impress others by pretending to be experienced sexually in order to fit in and seem more mature. Thankfully, Hittman’s film does not carry a heavy-handed message designed to teach a lesson. Instead the film accepts that sexual behavior is not completely uncommon amongst teenagers, thereby showing how perplexing and frustrating the transition into adulthood can be.
Cold and pale color tones found in the film represent how Lila feels about herself in addition to juxtaposing the warmth produced by the hot Brooklyn summer backdrop. Cinematographer Sean Porter (Eden) heavily relies on close-ups of the characters in order to amplify their emotions. There are times when the camera lens gazes at body parts as if it were looking through Lila’s eyes, allowing the audience to see what she is thinking about without her having to say a single word.
It Felt Like Love is an intimate portrayal of a teenager’s struggle into adulthood that avoids exaggerating or sugarcoating circumstances in favor of genuinely convincing ones. Unlike its main character, the film remains completely patient and shows restraint with its approach, resulting in a film that is more of an ambiguous observation than a message-driven narrative. It Felt Like Love is the kind of film that a lot of people try to make, yet few rarely succeed in making. If not handled properly the film can easily feel overly familiar, which makes it even more impressive that nearly everyone involved with the film was a newcomer.