It Felt Like Love
2013, 82 min, U.S.A., Dir: Eliza Hittman

In this 2013 Sundance Film Festival premiere, fourteen-year-old Lila is experiencing an ennui-filled Brooklyn summer. She awkwardly wears a Kabuki-esque mask of sunscreen at the beach and plays third wheel to Chiara, her more experienced friend, and Chiara’s boyfriend, Patrick. Determined to have a love interest of her own, a bravado-filled Lila pursues Sammy, a tough but handsome older boy. Though Sammy doesn’t respond to her overtures, he doesn’t reject her either, and Lila—unable to resist spinning delusional fables of a relationship with him—manipulates herself deeper into his world. When her desperation and posturing carry her too far into unfamiliar territory, her inexperience is exposed, and she is forced to confront reality.

In this film shot from Lila’s point of view and constructed with precise—sometimes startling—imagery and intimate moments, first-time feature writer/director Eliza Hittman confidently constructs a viewing experience that is completely subjective. Bolstered by a perfectly modulated lead performance from Gina Piersanti, It Felt Like Love unflinchingly reveals some of the rawest moments of girlhood in an authentic story of burgeoning identity and sexual awakening. - K.Y.

1983, 20th Century Fox, 91 min, USA, Dir: Michael Chapman

Legendary cinematographer Michael Chapman (TAXI DRIVER, RAGING BULL) made his directorial debut with this working-class coming-of-age film. Tom Cruise plays a high school athlete who hopes that football can save him from a dead-end life in the mill town where he lives. Craig T. Nelson is the coach with an agenda of his own who comes into conflict with his star player. Chapman places the compelling human drama against a naturalistic, richly detailed backdrop, and Lea Thompson is excellent opposite Cruise in the film’s tender and thoughtful love story.

1987, Paramount, 95 min, USA, Dir: Howard Deutch

Director Howard Deutch and screenwriter John Hughes followed up PRETTY IN PINK with a similar story that reverses the genders: This time Eric Stoltz is the have-not, Lea Thompson is the rich girl he has a crush on, and Mary Stuart Masterson is the best friend he doesn’t realize really loves him.

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