Movie review: “It Felt Like Love” coming-of-age story is both familiar and fresh

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From the April 24, 2014 edition

One of the biggest problems with the film industry’s gender gap — some estimates say female directors account for just 5 percent of films — is a lack of female perspective in the stories that are told.

Case in point: Last year’s lesbian coming-of-age import “Blue Is the Warmest Color” had a (straight) male director. On this front, “It Felt Like Love” is a breath of fresh air.

Writer-director Eliza Hittman tells the story of 14-year-old Lila (Gina Piersanti), a young girl spending a listless summer in Brooklyn. She’s often the third wheel on her more experienced friend’s date, but she feels pressured to experience her own sexual growing up.

“It Feels Like Love” avoids some of the pitfalls of the coming-of-age tale; it’s neither overly sentimental nor obnoxiously cautionary. In terms of its NYC setting, it bears similarity to “The Wackness” and “Kids” … two movies on opposite ends of that spectrum.

Hittman creates an evocative world through a great visual sense and the patience to let a scene breathe, but the film’s lack of a strong narrative becomes a fault. I get that it’s more about tone than action. I just needed more story to cling to.

It’s still an outstanding performance from Piersanti and a film that makes Hittman a director to watch.

Photo courtesy Variance Films