Yesterday, I took a Buzzfeed quiz testing how many romantic comedies one has seen. I got 67 out of 99. Honestly, I was surprised that the number wasn’t higher. Be it a rom-com or rom-dram, an early-2000’s big-budget picture starring Reese Witherspoon/ Jennifer Garner or a limited release starring Rashida Jones/ Zooey Deschanel, I’m game for anything that ends in either a kiss (/ proposal/ wedding) or in sobs. After a night of drinking and the failure to find someone to go home with, I rely on the tired tropes of others’ romantic wanderings to soothe my own heartache and lull me to sleep. This is how I found myself staring at Ashton Kutcher making a fool of himself as he tries to win back Amanda Peet late, late on a Saturday night.
On Sunday morning, I awoke groggily, yet I still got myself to the local coffee shop to see my friend play an acoustic set. One of the songs he covered was “All Your Favorite Bands” by Dawes. By Sunday evening, when I cozied into bed to watch Goodbye First Love (2011), directed by Mia Hanson Løve, I couldn’t get the song out of my head.
Goodbye First Love opens with Sullivan (Sebastian Urzendowsky) returning with a rose for his girlfriend, Camille (Lola Creton), who is lying naked in his bed. Camille muses about cutting her hair. Sullivan responds, “If you cut it, I’ll have to leave you,” to which Camille threatens, “If you leave me, I’ll have to kill you and then myself.” At first, I thought that she must be the most dramatic teenage girl that I’ve ever known. Then, I thought of myself at fifteen. I was the product of a sheltered all-girls’ school experience, and sex was still not on the horizon for a few solid years. I would spend hours in my bed, just like Camille, forcing tears (by turning on Adele’s version of “Make You Feel My Love”) over the thought of the boy who had my heart.
Sullivan wants to see the world, refusing to settle down. Camille is too wrapped up in the idea of Sullivan to see any alternative futures. Sullivan says to her, “You want to be everything to me, but that’s not possible.” Camille insists, “But, you’re everything to me.” They’re on different pages, and Camille’s youthful, all-encompassing vision of love discolors reality.
My own 21-year-old outlook has made it difficult to understand Camille’s rose-colored lens. Yet, if I’m being completely honest with myself, I was Camille at fifteen. And most likely, I am still Camille in ways I’m too afraid to admit.
Eventually, years pass and distance comes between Sullivan and Camille, just as it does with every relationship too steeped in an idealized notion of romance. Camille cuts her hair, just as she always wanted to, and just as I did the summer before leaving for college. She moves on, and so do I.
As I watched, I thought of the lyrics to “All Your Favorite Bands”: Now I’m just waking up and I’m not thinking clearly so don’t quote me/ With one eye open I’m writing you this song/ Ain’t it funny how some people pop into your head so easily/ I haven’t seen you in there for so long/ I hope that life without a chaperone is what you thought it’d be/ I hope your brother’s El Camino runs forever/ I hope the world sees the same person that you’ve always been to me/ And may all your favorite bands stay together.
Years later, Camille, long-past moved on and living with another boyfriend, runs into Sullivan in Paris. They meet at a coffee shop and go for a walk where Camille says that she is on her way to becoming a successful architect. He seems surprised. She asks him what he thought she would become, and he responds that he “never really thought about it.” For Camille, I imagine, it feels like he must never really think about her. Though she’s moved on, she still thinks of him often.
They decide to go to a movie and come out of it with mixed opinions. He hated it, she loved it. They’ve become different people. In growing up, they’ve grown apart, I guess, just as they should. My “first love’s” favorite band is still the same one from all those years ago, but mine has changed. He’d be surprised to learn that I want to be a writer now. But still, when I think of him, “I hope the world sees the same person that [he’s] always been to me, and I hope that all [his] favorite bands stay together.”–Linne Halpern
Linne Halpern '18 is an English and American Studies double major at Wesleyan University. She is co-founder and editor of Reverberations.
Goodbye First Love
Written and directed by Mia Hanson Løve
Runtime: 110 min