In her debut film, Eliza Hittman sketches a sensitive and often painful portrait of a 14-year-old girl on her way to adulthood. Something similar is often attempted, but the result is seldom as effective – and that is largely thanks to Hittman’s screenplay and directing. Unlike other coming-of-age dramas, this one focuses on the uneasy and embarrassing situations of growing up. Hittman is primarily interested in the turning points that form someone’s character and the inevitable disillusionments this process entails.
Young Lila’s budding sexuality soon puts an end to the myth of romantic love. Lila is not looking for the love of her life; she wants sexual experience, and if possible she wants it now. The boy she focuses on isn’t really interested in her. Slowly but surely, Lila loses herself in this obsession. Her vulnerability is perfectly captured in a poetic visual style in which subjectivity and a very precise reflection of feelings are more important than a clear story or dialogue.
With her radical approach to female sexuality, it’s no surprise that Hittman was inspired by directors such as Catherine Breillat. The result is a film that goes deep; Lila could be anyone, and her insecurity and unfortunate choices are familiar to all who remember anything about their puberty.