Critics' Pick

It Felt Like Love (NR)

Drama 82 March 28, 2014
By Chuck Wilson
In this pitch-perfect debut, writer-director Eliza Hittman and gifted cinematographer Sean Porter get at the urgent uncertainty of adolescence. Fourteen-year-old Lila (Gina Piersanti) is way too young to lose her virginity, and smart enough to know it, but she can think of little else.

Her best friend, Chiara (Giovanna Salimeni), on the verge of 16, has "been with" three boys and is getting hot and heavy with a fourth, and the shy, deeply interior Lila is determined to catch up. Hittman and Porter's camera hovers behind and beside Lila as she leaves her south Brooklyn house each morning to trail like a stray puppy behind Chiara and her boyfriend, Patrick (Jesse Cordasco), who nuzzle and coo as they walk down a crowded street. Lila is the very definition of a third wheel, but Chiara clearly wouldn't dream of leaving her behind. Hittman isn't big on providing backstory (Lila lives with her father; where is her mother?), but these two girls have surely known each other forever.

It Felt Like Love is brilliantly, brutally tactile. Lila is sitting on the beach with her face slathered in thick white sunscreen when she first sees Sammy (Ronen Rubinstein), who goes to college and works in a pool hall, and whose glance back at Lila as he walks past seems to flick a switch in her brain. Soon they're hanging out. He hasn't made a move, and isn't planning to, maybe, but Lila keeps planting herself in his path; something, surely, is going to happen. Lila's father (Kevin Anthony Ryan) isn't terribly concerned about his little girl, out there wandering who knows where, but moviegoers will most definitely worry. A lot.
Eliza Hittman Gina Piersanti, Ronen Rubinstein, Giovanna Salimeni, Jesse Cordasco, Andrew McCord, Case Prime, Nick Rosen, Richie Folio Eliza Hittman Varience Films

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