Middling: It Felt Like Love
Written and directed by Eliza Hittman
Produced by Eliza Hittman, Shrihari Sathe, Laura Wagner, Tyler Brodie, Molly Gandour, Hunter Gray, Gill Holland
Starring Gina Piersanti, Giovanna Salimeni, Ronen Rubinstein, Richie Folio, Nugget, Kevin Anthony Ryan, Nick Rosen, Jesse Cordasco, Case Prime
Languishing in summer tedium and the shadow of her popularly promiscuous best friend (Salimeni), a pretty, pouty, terminally timorous teen (Piersanti) ravenous for amatory attention assumes orbit about a handsome, thuggish billiard hall's clerk (Rubinstein) in pursuit of his affection. She's as incoordinate in proximity to her crush as when flailing unsynchronized as a member of her friend's silly terpsichorean quartet, and painfully obvious when professing the erotic experiences of acquaintances as her own to her closest confidant, a prepubescent neighbor (Folio) neither convinced by nor impressed with her flagrant falsities. Notwithstanding a few instances of stiff delivery, Hittman's debut feature's satisfactorily played, cut and shot, but adequacy can't compensate for the climatic languor that suffuses her narrative, or the revolting condition of middle-class Brooklyn's vapid degeneracy, manifest as parental neglect, troglodytic male posturing and ubiquitous hip-hop. A littoral metaphor on loan from Truffault's estate hardly enlivens an affair merely (if capably) belaboring its tenderfoot's boredom and heartache, without exploring the full detriment of her deceased mother's absence. Hittman wrangles her photogenic cast with varying success, generating the best of many contemplative moments when they're muted. Still, Piersanti's promise and presence almost belie her age; she may someday prove a reliable leading lady under the auspices of a better filmmaker.
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