It Felt Like Love

“It subtly and gradually – yet ineluctably – conjures a world that I was sorry to leave. I didn’t want this movie to end.” — Richard Brody, New Yorker

Director: Eliza Hittman
Year: 2013
Country: USA
Running time: 82 mins
Censor Rating: R16 - nudity, drug use, offensive language,

Screenplay: Eliza Hittman
Producer: Eliza Hittman, Shrihari Sathe, Laura Wagner
Photography: Sean Porter
Editors: Carlos Marques-Marcet, Scott Cummings
Production designer: James Boxer
Costume designer: Sarah Malorino

With: Gina Piersanti (Lila), Giovanna Salimeni (Chiara), Ronen Rubinstein (Sammy), Jesse Cordasco (Patrick), Nicolas Rosen (Devon), Richie Folio (Justin), Kevin Anthony Ryan (Lila’s father), Case Prime (Nate)

Festivals: Sundance, Rotterdam 2013

Budding sexual awakening is explored with a resolutely and refreshing female sensibility in this evocative study of a teenage girl’s attempts to attract an older guy during a hot Brooklyn summer. Although 14-year-old Lila is the film’s subject, her lovely nubile form, skimpily clad for the beach or to cope with urban heat, is not its object. Instead, we see the world through her desiring gaze. Shifting her focus from her friend, the worldly Chiara, whom she emulates right down to dying her hair the same colour and repeating Chiara’s sex talk, she comes to concentrate on handsome, tattooed Sammy – caressed by the camera in ways that evoke such European filmmakers as Claire Denis. Lila’s quest takes her into some dangerous situations, but there’s nothing punitive in filmmaker Eliza Hittman’s treatment of her recklessness. Her sensual, gritty and unsettling debut is very alert to the humiliations, deceptions and hurts of teenage experience. — Sandra Reid