Why are first loves so hard to forget?
Aw, first loves… I bet there’s no one who doesn’t remember their first romantic relationship, no matter the circumstance or how it ended. It’s impossible. We all experience first loves in a different way, and the situations can be as diverse as there are people in the world, but there’s something we all have in common, and that is the intensity with which we experience it. It’s that moment in our lives when we’re still so naive but at the same time so hungry to grow up that love becomes basically our first chance to prove that we’re no longer those innocent kids people think we are. For that reason, we take them to the extreme with so much passion that we don’t care or meditate on the consequences. That’s why they can be the most painful heartbreaks but also the most emotional and intense relationships we’ll ever have. Then again, for that reason, we can’t really forget them. The movies below are great examples of this and how our first love can really shape the person we will be in the future.
Cinema Paradiso (1988) Dir. Giuseppe Tornatore
This was one of the first "adult" movies I watched in my life. I don’t really know if I love it so much because it reminds me of those lovely days when I discovered it or because its compelling story still captivates me. Cinema Paradiso tells the story of Salvatore, a successful filmmaker from a small Sicilian town who finds out someone from his past has just died. We then learn his life story and how he learned the profession from a projectionist at the local movie house. Besides the heartfelt relationship between this man and young Salvatore, we’re presented with his first love story with Elena, the daughter of a wealthy banker, and how painful it was to be separated from her by her parents, who didn’t want their daughter to have anything to do with a poor boy. This is one of the movies you have to watch when you want to pour your emotions out or when you just want a sweet story to feel better.
Moonrise Kingdom (2012) Dir. Wes Anderson
With the unique visual and narrative style that characterizes filmmaker Wes Anderson, this movie deals with that first love we experience in our childhood. Besides the lovely coming of age narrative, we’re told the story of Sam and Suzy, the development of their quite peculiar love story (I mean, it's Wes Anderson), and the obstacles they have to face to be together. What’s great about the movie is how this couple's story switches between maturity and innocence as the story progresses. Also, the visual elements of the story are perfect to convey the complexity and contrasting experiences we go through when we're growing up. This film represents the perfect balance between our sweet innocence (though the characters aren’t so naive) and maturity.
Juno (2007) Dir. Jason Reitman
Remember what we said about that contrast between childhood and maturity? Well, this movie shows us precisely that process in which all of the sudden you have to grow almost immediately. This is the story of a misfit teen who finds herself pregnant after one encounter with her secret crush. Together they decide that the best thing for them is to give the baby for adoption, so the movie shows us not only the relationship she establishes with the family that will take care of the baby, but also how this girl has to face her reality and act like an adult when she’s clearly just a child who thinks she can take care of everything. Now, one of the most heartfelt things in the movie is precisely the relationship. He’s the kind of dorky and naive guy who’s after her all the time, while she’s kind of an arrogant girl who thinks she’s always right. By the end of the movie, and after actually having to grow up, she realizes that her attitude hasn’t been the best and that it has even pushed away those who love her the most, including her all-time friend who’s always had a romantic interest in her.
Goodbye First Love (2011) Dir. Mia Hansen-Løve
Do you remember the core story of Grease? How both meet during their vacations and fall for each other but the summer ends and they have to separate only to meet afterward? Well, this movie has something of this, but not as sweet and accompanied by songs. It tells the story of Camille and Sullivan’s love story after they met during their vacations in the Loire Valley. Their relationship is intense and deeply emotional, but it has to end sooner than later. Not knowing anything from him, Camille develops an equally intense depression that makes her almost kill herself. A decade later, she's made a life by herself and even finds a new love she cares for, but meets Sullivan once again. Of course, this puts her in the middle of a confusing and kind of painful emotional situation that makes us reflect if we ever get over our first loves, especially when these are as intense as theirs was.
Call Me by your Name (2017) Dir. Luca Guadagnino
This is the movie that’s causing a lot of enthusiasm in the film industry right now, and according to many critics, it’s one of the most beautiful films ever made, and I agree with that. Call Me by your Name tells the story of Elio, a shy and introspective teenager who loves reading and exploiting his amazing musical talent. While living in the Italian countryside he meets Oliver, a grad student Elio’s father has invited to stay at the house. Both start spending more and more time together until they develop an emotional bond that goes beyond a simple and innocent friendship. After spending the rest of the summer enjoying their mutual love and exploring their sexualities, Oliver must return home. Depressed, Elio sinks in himself once again until his father confesses him that he once had a relationship like that, and that he has to learn to enjoy even the saddest moments of the experience. All in all, it teaches us how our first love can define who we are and how we’ll be in the future.
What I love about these movies is that, while they explore how passionate and life-changing first loves can be, they don’t focus on the cheesy romantic aspects of the experience. On the contrary, they show how loss and grief can really affect us for the rest of our lives and how we can’t get over these loves because they arrive when we want to experience our emotions to the last consequences, not caring about any logic or what’s best for us.
Here are other movie lists you might like: