Making matters worse, Lila's best friend Chiara has a boyfriend with whom Chiara necks and coos. Preoccupied with her own budding sexuality, Lila pursues Sammy, a slightly older teenage boy, to whom she lies about her sexual experience in a dangerous flirtation. It's a warm, languorous summer in Brooklyn with outings to the beach and impromptu parties as the undercurrent of Lila's naïveté collides with less innocent behavior.
Eliza Hittman's debut feature shows a maturity and expertise of much more experienced filmmakers. Hittman holds on close-ups, trusting the audience to watch carefully and understand the emotional terrain. Never hurried, the sparse dialogue and the intent gazes reveal Lila's longing, with no adult in sight to advise or warn her.
The actors, especially Gina Piersanti as Lila, give unaffected performances, with the interaction between Lila and Chiara feeling candid and honest. To underscore the fine acting, the savvy editors, Scott Cummings and Carlos Marques-Marcet, linger on emotions, letting these young actors prove their mettle, which they do in every scene. As further support, Sean Porter's smooth, hand-held, probing shots further reinforce Lila's yearning. Soft yellows and filtered light dominate compositions as the camera casually but never salaciously caresses these young bodies.
Fresh, cinematic, and finely textured, "It Felt Like Love" screens at Webster University's Winifred Moore auditorium at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, May 16th through Sunday, May 18th. For more information, you may call 314-968-7487 or on the web at: Webster.edu/filmseries.