Movie Løve: Director Mia Hansen-Løve in interview
"I'm sorry, I speak a lot," Mia Hansen-Løve says, suddenly breaking off in mid-sentence. "It's because I know you are my last interview today and I want to say everything." It comes as no surprise, because it's clear from her short but impressive career that she's a filmmaker with plenty to say. In five years Hansen-Løve has directed three features and is currently working on her fourth. Her 2007 debut All is Forgiven told the story of a troubled father-daughter relationship, while her acclaimed 2009 film The Father of My Children drew on the life of Humbert Balsan (a celebrated French film producer who committed suicide in 2005) to sensitively and powerfully explore themes of family, art, life and grief; but the director's third feature, Goodbye First Love, is her most nakedly personal film to date.
Hansen-Løve describes this tale of teenage love's ups and downs as a kind of prequel to her first two features ("this may be a stupid and funny comparison, but it's like Star Wars," she laughs) and in many ways it's her most ambitious and challenging film to date, forcing her to pour many painful emotions onto the screen. "I could never have made it as my first film," she admits, "Maybe The Father of My Children was more difficult to write technically, but in terms of how you feel about the material it was much easier to write than this one." The personal resonances for the director are there for all to see, with the relationship between Camille (Lola Créton) and Lorenz (Magne Håvard Brekke) mirroring that of Hansen-Løve and Olivier Assayas, who was her mentor and later her husband. Assayas gave Hansen-Løve her first taste of filmmaking when he cast the 17 year-old in Late August, Early September and changed the course of her life. "The first connection I had with film was this physical experience on set, which had an incredible intensity of feeling that has never left me," she recalls. "I loved it. I loved it so much, but I loved it because he trusted me and his trust gave me incredible self-confidence. I never found that again, it was just in these two films with Olivier."
Such self-confidence is surely evident from the way Goodbye First Love encompasses a whole decade in the lives of its characters with fluidity and elegance, but Hansen-Løve plays down this achievement. "In a way, I think it's more natural for me to tell a story that stretches over many years than to tell a story over a very short time" she says. "The only way I know how to express the feelings I want to express through my films is by showing different moments in a life, and how the past resonates into the present, to show the connection of this moment." She admits that she makes life difficult for herself, though. "You know, after every film I have thought, 'Oh, it would be so nice to make a film that happens over a weekend and to stop with this passing of time thing,' but I can't avoid it with every film. There are films I love that only take place in one day or one week, and I feel jealous because I can't do it!"
Hansen-Løve is taking this tendency to extremes with her next film Lost in Music, which will follow a DJ over the course of twenty years and will be released as two separate features. "After Goodbye First Love I again thought that it would be nice to do a simple film and instead I did the worst thing I could ever do" she sighs, "I wrote a very expensive film, no famous actors, only young people, and it's about music so the rights for the music will cost like €500,000. After this one I promise I will make a simple film with a big star!" We'll have to wait and see if Hansen-Løve keeps that promise, but whatever she decides to do next it will undoubtedly be a film worth waiting for.