110 minutes

The third feature from acclaimed French writer-director Mia Hansen-Løve, Un Amour de jeunesse is a frank improvement on her endearingly sensitive but ultimately underwhelming breakthrough picture, 2009's Le Père de mes enfants (The Father of My Children). Defined as the final instalment in a semi-autobiographical trilogy began with 2007's Tout est pardonné, the new film is a leisurely coming-of-age tale that follows young Parisian Camille (Lola Créton) full-circle over an eight-year period. It starts in 1999, as her first love Sullivan (Sebastian Urzendowsky) leaves to journey through Latin America and breaks up with her from a distance, and her own gradual blossoming into a woman searching for an ideal for living, before a casual meet brings the two back into contact in 2007.

     Set in three acts divided in urban and countryside settings, Un Amour de jeunesse can be infuriatingly slight, especially in its early going, as Camille behaves like a petulant, tantrum-prone teenager convinced there's no love like the first love. But that is part and parcel of Ms. Hansen-Løve's method: her characters are people, not conceits. They are flawed and unlikeable, their emotions are far from perfect and there is, indeed, no love like the first love, as the film winningly underlines. As Camille grows up and, literally, comes of age before our eyes in Ms. Créton's deceptively effortless performance, only to realise the love of her life hasn't grown up as much as she has, the film gains strength, speed and gravity, and blossoms, like Camille herself, into a fully-fledged work — even if the plot is still too slight to fully justify a two-hour running time.

Starring Lola Créton, Sebastian Urzendowsky, Magne Håvard-Brakke; Valérie Bonneton; with Serge Renko; and Özay Fecht.
     Directed and written by Mia Hansen-Løve; produced by Philippe Martin and David Thion; director of photography (colour, processing by Eclair), Stéphane Fontaine; production designers, Mathieu Menut, Charlotte de Cadeville; costume designer, Bethsabée Dreyfus; film editor, Marion Monnier.
     A Les Films Pelléas/Razor Film production, in co-production with ARTE France Cinéma, WDR/ARTE, Rhône-Alpes Cinéma, Jouror Productions; with the participation of ARTE France, Canal Plus, Cinecinéma, French National Centre for Cinema and the Moving Image, Filmförderunganstalt, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg; with the support of the Île-de-France and Rhône-Alpes regions; in association with Cinémage 5 and Cofimage 22. (French distributor, Les Films du Losange. World sales, Films Distribution.)
     Screened: Festa do Cinema Francês 2011 advance press screening, Institut Français du Portugal - Philippe Frydman Theatre (Lisbon), October 4th 2011. 


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