Just caught up with Sundance pic “It Felt Like Love” here in Rotterdam. Super impressive debut from Eliza Hittman. A very assured voice.
— Scott Macaulay (@FilmmakerMag) January 27, 2013
Eliza Hittman‘s debut feature has a proper site, a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and a tumblr. It Felt Like Love premiered in Sundance‘s NEXT section and is competing for a Hivos Tiger Award in Rotterdam.
It’s “a coming-of-age tale set in Gerritsen Beach and adjacent working-class neighborhoods in southern Brooklyn that, in the rare instances in which they appear on screen, usually double for New England waterfronts (see The Departed).” Joseph Pomp at the House Next Door: “Lila (Gina Piersanti), a scrawny, confused 14-year-old, spends the summer by the water, playing third wheel to her precocious best friend, Chiara (Giovanna Salimeni), and her boyfriend, Patrick (Jesse Cordasco). Lila’s widowed father, jaded yet sensitive, assures her that, as much as it may seem like it, they’re not really in love. Anxious for her own sex life to begin, Lila starts to trail the first guy that crosses her path, initiating herself into an older Guido-fab world dominated by blunts, forties, and promiscuity. The familiar subject matter is enlivened by a distinct visual style centered upon close-ups and soft focus. Cinematographer Sean Porter captures young female faces with the same grace, poignancy, and grayish palette that he brought to Megan Griffiths’s Eden, bolstering Piersanti’s impressively assured performance and Hittman’s architecture of a community in which Lila doesn’t quite belong.”
“The quiet, beautiful sadness of the camera harkens to a filmmaker like Lynne Ramsay—if Lynne Ramsay directed Jersey Shore,” suggests Katie Walsh at the Playlist. “All of the performances by the cast of unknown actors ring truer than life, particularly Piersanti.”
In his Sundance diary for Film Comment, John Wildman notes that, “while it is very much a ‘small’ and intimate ‘personal’ film, there is much to hang onto and identify with both for both a younger audience that would be Lila’s peers as well as any girl that grew up, ever.”
“The writer-director’s stress on the small, degrading details that attend yearning as well as her protagonist’s desperation and self-deception make it more mood piece than straightforward narrative,” writes Variety‘s Alissa Simon, “but the ultra-confident production proves that Hittman’s a talent to watch.”
More from John DeFore (Hollywood Reporter) and Scott Renshaw (City Weekly). Both Filmmaker and Indiewire have spoken with Hittman.
Bonus viewing. The trailer for Hittman’s 2011 short, Forever’s Gonna Start Tonight:
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