It Felt Like Love, the debut effort from director Eliza Hittman, is the story of Lila, a lonely 14-year-old living in Brooklyn. Through her debut Hittman wanted to represent “the lonely moments, the surges of false confidence, and small humiliating details that are often buried in our memories,” her lead, first-timer Gina Piersanti, delivers on all counts as Lila. Watching her exploits over a long, slow summer is likely to prompt a wave of memories, not all of them good.
Living with her disengaged and dispirited father, Lila struggles to come to terms with her burgenoning sexuality. While spending time with her older, sexually active best friend and her constant stream of boyfriends, Lila develops a dangerous fixation on a thuggish college boy. Her awkward attempts to ingratiate herself with him lead her into ever more precarious situations.
It Felt Like Love is a well-made film which explores the perils of life as a teenager without sentiment or offering solutions. Parts of the film are extremely difficult to watch, as misogynistic music, alcohol, pornography and isolation create a confusing and menacing world for the teenage Lila. However, Hittman’s debut is engaging and, although enjoyable may not be the right word, is highly rewarding.