It Felt Like Love

Eliza Hittman’s Brooklyn-shot debut feature (2013) ruminates on our society’s sexualization of early adolescent girls, centering on a lonely 14-year-old who starts indulging her curiosity about sex without understanding the risks. There are many explicit images involving teens, yet they make one feel sorrowful rather than voyeuristic; Hittman draws attention to the pervasive cultural forces (rap music, Internet pornography, suggestive dancing on TV) that present young girls as sexual objects, making the scenes of exploitation seem sadly inevitable. In her approach to teen sexuality, Hittman shows uncommon seriousness for an American filmmaker, but if you’ve seen any recent French art movies on the subject, you may find this rather familiar (at one point, she re-creates the most famous scene in Catherine Breillat’s Fat Girl).