It Felt Like Love


US | 2013 | Directed by Liza Hittman

Logline: A young and naive teenage girl feels the need to pursue a boy several years older in response to her slightly older girlfriend’s sexual prowess.

Like Evan Glodell's Bellflower a debut feature that exudes a pure sense of cinema; soaked in atmosphere, bristling with anticipation, drifting with a moody attention to detail, yet aloof and detached like a contemptuous breeze. In the throes of adolescent curiosity and confusion It Felt Like Love hits all the right spots, but refuses to reach around.

Gina Piersanti plays 14-year-old Lila, the only child of a disinterested father, a mother who is either in hospital or has passed away. Her neighbouring friend is a boy several years younger, her best friend Chiara (Giovanna Salimeni), is two years older (a lifetime when you’re a teenager), and Lila feels it intensely.


It’s summer in Brooklyn, New York City. Boredom is rife, and the ennui of kidulthood permeates everything. Chiara and her current boyfriend Patrick (Jesse Cordasco) make out at any opportunity, and Lila tags along like a spare tush at a wedding. Then college student Sammy (Ronen Rubenstein) sidles past one day at the beach and Lila is infatuated.

With a sensual visual narrative style very similar to that of Australian director Cate Shortland (Somersault, Lore) and a perspective that slides between provocative and dangerous, reminiscent of French director Catherine Breillat, writer/director Liza Hittman captures a beautiful sense of urgency and identity whilst riding that often elusive, but powerfully resonant tone exhibited by the best European fare.


The performances by mostly first-timers are spot on, but it’s Piersanti in the central role of lonely Lila that commands the movie, she is definitely one to watch. Like the amazing Kate Jarvis in Andrea Arnold’s Fish Tank, the camera loves Piersanti, and it’s obvious she has talent in spades.


Liza Hittman has one of the year’s best first features on her hands, a bold and beautiful movie, and yet another testament to the impressive digital calibre of the Red Epic camera.

It Felt Like Love screens in Sydney as part of Possible Worlds Festival of American & Canadian Cinema, Saturday 17th August, 6.30pm, Dendy Opera Quays.