Director Eliza Hittman’s first feature-length film, “It Felt Like Love,” was released in 2013 and will premiere at the Campus Theatre on Sept. 23 at 7 p.m. The film is considered a coming-of-age story and illustrates the journey of a vulnerable and naïve 14-year-old girl, Lila, as she struggles to fit in among a more mature and sexually experienced crowd.
The film was shot in 18 days on a budget of under $100,000, but this does not diminish the power of the images and themes that it projects. The film begins with Lila observing and shadowing her 16-year-old friend Chiara and Chiara’s new boyfriend on the beach. Lila’s face is covered with white sunscreen. This scene could be symbolic of Lila’s innocence, since the color white is often associated with purity and innocence. Additionally, Lila’s heavily sun-screened faced and one-piece bathing suit is juxtaposed with Chiara’s more revealing bikini and physical attachment to her boyfriend.
Lila’s loss of innocence is a universal truth for male and female teens, which makes her experiences relatable on many levels for the audience. Witnessing Lila cope with and subsequently address her lack of experience is painful and heartbreaking at times. Observing Lila’s experience is also an eye-opening experience. Her character’s storyline gives insight into how the female role can be active rather than passive. In contrast to the overly generalized passive role of the female, Lila’s character is pursuing sexual experiences on her own instead of being pursued.
Lila’s active pursuit of a sexual relationship while trying to impress an older male makes her actions and behavior a bit unsettling. The audience witnesses how her obsession with the older and much more sexually experienced male, Sammy, drives her to abandon her innocence at the ripe age of 14.
Most other coming-of-age stories cause the audience to hope the protagonist gains independence and reach their goal, but in “It Felt Like Love,” the audience recognizes how inexperienced and childlike Lila truly is, and longs for a figure in her life to steer her in the right direction.