Honest look at early passion
Hansen-Løve’s first two films tackled subjects like family dissolution, addiction, and suicide. Her delicate, intelligent, naturally cinematic treatment of such challenging material has established her, at 30, as one of today’s best young French filmmakers. That recognition evidently has given her the courage to go back to something simpler and more directly autobiographical, Un amour de jeunesse (the French title) — a young woman’s first passionate love. Nothing quite so harsh here as before in the world beyond the sensitive protagonist: some parents separate, perhaps, but happily, it seems; and nobody crashes. There is just the big task of mastering young emotion. The director’s wonderful previous film, The Father of My Children, was more complex, but this one dares to be simple, and to go over material that may seem over-ridden with associations that risk cliché. Its bitter-sweet honesty in examining the traces left on a life by a first love seems essentially French. There is no cliché here. Again the young director approaches big events with bold honesty.