Fourteen-year-old Lila is experiencing an ennui-filled Brooklyn summer. She awkwardly wears a Kabuki-esque mask of sunscreen at the beach while playing third wheel to Chiara, her more experienced friend, and Chiara's boyfriend, Patrick. Determined to have a love interest of her own, Lila pursues Sammy, a tough but handsome older boy. Although Sammy does not respond to her overtures, he also does not outright reject her, and an emboldened Lila, unable to resist spinning delusional fables of a relationship with him, manipulates herself deeper into his world. When her desperation and posturing carry her too far into unfamiliar territory, her inexperience is exposed, and she is forced to confront reality, finding herself in a dangerously vulnerable situation.
In this film shot from Lila's point of view and constructed with precise, and sometimes startling, first-time feature writer/director Eliza Hittman confidently constructs a viewing experience that is completely subjective. Evoking the unsentimental honesty of Maurice Pialat and Catherine Breillat, and bolstered by a perfectly modulated lead performance from Gina Piersanti, It Felt Like Love unflinchingly reveals some of the rawest moments of girlhood in an authentic story of burgeoning identity and sexual awakening.
Directed by Eliza Hittman, U.S.A., 2013, 82 mins.BlackBook: director interview NY Times: director interview