DVD It Felt Like Love

DVD It Felt Like Love
DVD It Felt Like Love
Run time: 82 min
Rating: 5.8
Genres: Drama
Director: Eliza Hittman
Writers: Eliza Hittman
Stars: Gina Piersanti, Giovanna Salimeni, Ronen Rubinstein
Lila wants to emulate the sexual exploits of her more experienced best friend. She fixates on a tough older guy who will “sleep with anyone” and tries to insert herself into his world, putting herself in a dangerously vulnerable situation.
Plot Keywords: dance, lie, beach, obsession, coming of age
Country: USA
Release Date: 21 March 2014 (USA)
Box Office
Opening Weekend: $8,211 (USA) (21 March 2014)
Gross: $31,173 (USA) (25 April 2014)


  1. When many filmmakers approach the young girl searching for love story, they tend to turn it into a game where the young female protagonist's objective is catching the guy, through cute and sometimes provocative means. It's the tried and true teen movie structure—awkward girl transforms herself to be the object of desire for the popular, more sexually advanced male. But what happens when real girls internalize that model as they explore their own sexuality and adulthood? What happens when you take that off the Hollywood stage and situate a film in the often-overlooked working class Brooklyn? Eliza Hittman's film, It Felt Like Love, deftly is walks the line between potentially dangerous consequences of the girl transforming herself for the male gaze and sex object and the rite of passage that is discovering one's own sexuality and the often awkward and mortifying route that discovery can take.

    The film opens with long, dialogue-less shots of a day at the beach for Gina Piersanti's young, inexperienced Lila. She has tagged along with her seemingly more mature friend, Chiara (Giovanna Salimeni) and Chiara's boyfriend. While the couple has wandered into a house, Lila is left to her own devices. The camera sometimes takes on her point of view as she investigates her surroundings, where the audience has the opportunity to return to their youth and inexperience. Other times, the camera lingers over Lila. While in less adept hands this lingering could be potentially cloying and sentimental, Hittman uses these shots to establish the dichotomy between Lila and the majority of her audience. While the audience may have been young once, this is a different generation whose own rite of passage is unique to their time. These shots of Lila, therefore, establish the difference between her youth and our experience. Much of the tension of the film resides here, since we watch Lila insinuate herself into increasingly, potentially dangerous situations and are unable to do anything about it.

    It is clear from the start that Lila is envious of the more mature Chiara, as her friend seems to be maturing as our society suggests a young female should—using her sex to hold onto the guy, being the sex object he desires. Chiara's current boyfriend is jealous that there have been other boys before him; however, it is unclear if this is factual or not as the camera focuses on Chiara's face when they discuss this. In this scene, in particular, the actors' subtle performances are crucial in establishing the ambiguity. It's a double-edged sword for the character. If she confirms that she is not a virgin, then she's the whore and less desirable to her boyfriend; while on the other hand if she says she is a virgin, then she's less sexually experienced and desirable.

    While Chiara's boyfriend is her age, Lila has set her sights upon an older acquaintance of Chiara's, Sammy (Ronen Rubenstein). She goes through the motions of what she believes maturity to look like, but the plans she devises to see him and get his attention reveals her youth. She packs a bag of groceries and pretends to be in his neighborhood, when she stops by the bowling alley he works at. She tries the cliché smoking of a cigarette to be perceived as older (it's cliché precisely because it is not only so common place in depictions of youth but also because it is the go-to standard for youth's perception of adulthood). It feels as if Lila has a checklist of what it means to be an adult, and she's running through the pieces one by one.

    As she moves along this checklist, Lila puts herself in situations that are cringe-worthy at the very least and potentially dangerous. One of the most pivotal and challenging scenes comes when Lila has invited herself to Sammy's apartment. It is in this scene in particular where Hittman's work as a director shines through. She is able to coax out the performances from the young actors, not just with dialogue, but also their reactions to the dialogue and actions in the scene. Sammy is not alone, hanging out with the guys, smoking weed and drinking beers. Through close-ups of Sammy's face, Hittman seems to suggest that Sammy is aware of Lila's youth and sensitive to it as she tries to prove her sexual experience. However, in front of his friends, Sammy also seems to be pulled toward acting like one of the guys and going along with the act. That tension demonstrates that it is not only young girls trying to navigate the tricky waters of our porn and sex obsessed culture, but young men are also trying to figure out what manhood looks like.

    While the experience of young adults discovering their own sexual nature is nothing new, what Lila and Sammy (to some extent) seem to be grappling with feels very particular to this moment and time. Just as Larry Clark's Kids examined what the teenage years looked and felt like in a very raw way at the end of the previous century, Hittman explores more specifically the expectations and desires of female adolescence in today's society. The success of It Felt Like Love arises from Hittman's ability to challenge the audience with this depiction, while also creating a thoughtful and honest look at her characters. She not only portrays those difficult and embarrassing aspects, but also the comical and naïve parts of self-discovery. And Hittman does all of this with a beautifully shot, seamless film.

  2. When your main actor delivers a bad performance, your movie is in trouble. I know some people may be uncomfortable with the subject of the movie. But it is either because they forgot the time they were that age or to be politically correct. In the case of the young girl portrayed in this film, I was at first wondering if she had real desires for the opposite sex or if she just wanted to be the equal of her friend. The latter seems to be the obvious reason, but it is not clear because the main actress never gives us a concrete sign of the finality of what she is looking for. It is disappointing because the topic is not without interest.

  3. Independent films often times are very odd motion pictures, if just because they usually try to tell a story which doesn't feel like something you are used to seeing. With this though comes a risk of not connecting with the audience for if it is too weird or just is hard to connect with. As for It Felt Like Love, while a coming of age film which certainly seems to want to stand out, I don't know if it may connect with you.

    Characters & Story

    Poor Lila (Gina Piersanti) has seemingly lived the life of being best friend Chiara's (Giovanna Salimeni) 3rd wheel for who knows how long. And with them both approaching 16, and Lila living vicariously through Chiara, it seems Lila is ready to try to get out there, date, and fall in love. Leading us to watch as Lila pursues this guy named Sammy (Ronen Rubinstein) who is cute, knows Chiara, and seems like someone decent.


    Films which deal with self-discovery, especially during the teen years, are usually from varied perspectives but almost every single one of the deal with being validated by winning the attention of someone. This one is no different, but what I like about this one is that Lila comes off utterly average. She doesn't seem to have the appeal Chiara has which makes guys gravitate to her, she isn't the best dancer so she doesn't have a draw there, and her being such a basic run of the mill person makes her so strangely relatable. For without any bells and whistles, all she has is the fact she is human and wants attention and affection.

    And while, I'll admit, I wasn't too fond how she went for it, at the same time you can understand her sort of silent desperation to connect with someone she wanted to care for her. Also, shifting things to Chiara, while she may have all the stuff a guy may want, the issue is, as we see with the first guy introduced Patrick (Jesse Cordasco), that even having what is desirable isn't all it is cracked up to be for it comes with its own issues. For then you have to deal with insecure boys, not being treated as you feel you should, and while Chiara certainly isn't the main focus, she does show that rarely seen side of the girl who has it all, and yet still can't really get the ideal.


    Leading to the criticism which perhaps could be taken as a praise depending how you look at it. This filmed feels like they filmed an actual person's life, and with that comes this dullness which may give authenticity, but creates an immense sense of boredom. For with the film feeling like it represents a two week period, in which there isn't much in terms of growth really, you are left wondering what is the film trying to put out there? Unless the main goal was simply finishing the film. For with this being Writer/ Director Eliza Hit-man's first film, as well as the first film for many of the actors, I almost feel this wasn't made necessarily to show off talent, but simply for exposure for the young artist, and Hit-man gaining a sense of accomplishment by finishing a film and getting it out there.

    With this feeling, and noting this is the first movie for nearly all involved, I feel this weird need to give this film a pass for having a weak story, and sort of bland characters. And yet, at the same time I feel like I should still compare this to other indie movies and call it out for being lackluster.

    Overall: TV Viewing

    Honestly, a part of me wants to say you should skip this. Yet, at the same time I value the fact that for most of those involved this was their first big film and while it may not have been to my liking, it doesn't mean it is horrible. If anything, it is one of those films in which you have to respect the conditions of how it was made and who took part in making it. Also, with Lila we get the rare girl who seems perfectly average. She isn't rich, doesn't have much to offer but her time, and yet still, like any of us, believes she is worthy of someone she likes loving her. And it makes me want applaud the film for it certainly reminds you of the value indie movies have for they try to portray something different than usually seen. And while between the director's vision, and the ultimate produce, it may not have seemed to have worked, you have to admire all that was done so you even get to see the film. So, taking note of what was said, I'm labeling this as "TV Viewing" for it may not be exemplary, but it is adequate.

  4. Like the title says this movie was..well booorrriinnng.

    I checked the "spoiler" box just to be safe, but really I don't give much of the "plot" here.

    Kind of interesting at points, reminds me of the movie "KIDS" a little.

    A lot of it pretty depressing really. Most of the people seem to be very down-tone, uncouth, and pretty indifferent, etc. In particular the father. He doesn't seem to care about his daughter at all. It seems to me if she just had at least one supportive person in her (the protagonist's) life, someone sane she could talk to, then she'd be doing a hell of a lot better in her life. Life sucks if you live with a bunch of zombies and in the absence of love. Maybe that was the moral of the story..?

    On a side note the two rave reviews about this movie appear to be shills that have never reviewed any other movie.

    At any rate you will probably want to skip this movie as you could probably find something much more fun to watch..

Leave a Reply

Lost Password