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In his capsule review, J.R. Jones described writer-director Mia Hansen-Løve as the protégé of the great Olivier Assayas (Carlos, Irma Vep), but I’d contend she’s already his equal. Goodbye, First Love manipulates time just as radically as Assayas’s Demonlover—another movie in which life always feels two jumps ahead of the characters—yet it’s not as abrasive. Depicting the relationship between teenage lovers both during their romance and the decade afterwards, the movie is a fluid, sensitive depiction of the loss of innocence.
Hansen-Løve is a born filmmaker: in her work, every cinematic device feels tied to a distinct emotional response. (I’ve elaborated on this idea elsewhere.) As a result, it’s hard to write about her films without resorting to generic platitudes or plot summaries, both of which fail to convey the richness of her art. These movies demand, first and foremost, to be experienced—which is why, of the all the movies that played at the 2011 Chicago International Film Festival, I’m most eager for this one to return to theaters.