Goodbye First Love ★★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

A very realistic depiction of the broken heart.

Although her breakup with Sullivan (Sebastian Urzendowsky) arrives only later, Camille (Lola Créton) is unhappy in this relationship from the beginning of GOODBYE FIRST LOVE, when they are still together. Lola Créton's untroubled face and Bressonian acting proves perfectly suited to the expression of the dissatisfaction intertwined with despair and passion that Camille feels for Sullivan. His upcoming departure for a long trip is troubling her, but I understood her agitation as more deeply-seated: in this intense, young relationship, Camille feels what any young girl in her position would feel (in any case, what I felt back then): lucky to have found someone to be close to, scared for the future, yet hopeful and determined to sacrifice everything for love, which, as we all know, is the most important thing. The way Créton holds herself at once elegantly and with timidity, together with Hansen-Love's predilection for in-between moments, translate these contradictory and complex emotions with a subtlety, a delicacy that is not gratuitous but that actually helps to make these feelings visible, as if by magic.

When Sullivan leaves her, Camille is naturally heartbroken, but in a more profound and life-changing way than other girls in other films (this is a generalisation, but this specific type of heartbreak is rarely depicted well). Camille does not understand why this separation occurred and neither does Sullivan, nor the spectator, yet this immense question mark is not a sign of weak scriptwriting, to the contrary. I blame (Hollywood) movies for making me believe that there always are clear reasons for people to separate and still love each other, or not; this film tries to undo all this mythology by showing how it really happens, and more specifically, what the heart of the person experiences, rather than her brain.

Sullivan was Camille's first love, he was her everything and someone she thought she knew and could count on, but she couldn't understand that he didn't know how to love her in a way that would make her happy. This incapacity to be together and their undeniable mutual love are not related, and that is the tragic aspect of their romance. However unfairly he treats her, however selfishly he acts, Camille cannot help loving him, and that is the point at which the film chooses to stay in the realm of emotions and do without rational thought. I do not mean that Camille is stupid, or blind, rather that she listens to her heart a lot more than she does to her brain or to others.

It is interesting that Camille does not seem to have any friends to talk to, who could help her see the 'physical' reality of her relationship with Sullivan, who would tell her that she deserves happiness as much as anyone else and that sometimes our own emotions can go against our own wellbeing. Her mother is not of much help, and so Camille has no one to help her put words on what has happened and come back down to earth and out of her head and out of the past. I may sound cynical and insensitive, but that's because I have chosen (after a long period of doubt and pain and paralysis, naturally) to pair my heart with my brain in order to avoid wasting years of my life on helpless causes such as Sullivan.

Hansen-Love, by contrast, has chosen to focus on and to stretch the spiritual, emotional journey of heartbreak to its very last limit; therefore, in this scenario, the only way out of this pain is utter, complete defeat and loss of hope. She didn't pair this sentimental aspect with the mental journey of the heartbroken. This aspect of heartbreak, however, can be read in negative of the existing film. In my experience, the intellectual path out of heartache feels like an endless succession of slaps in the face for a while, as you slowly come to terms with the idea that you were wrong about someone; that love is a lot more complicated than they tell you in movies; that you will continue to have feelings for that person; that you will never be quite sure what these feelings are; but eventually, after this period of painful reconstruction, your reason will help you break free from sorrow, regrets and constant questioning.

You'll have room to do it all over again with someone else.