For The Løve Of Language

3 April 2012 | 10:38 pm | Anthony Carew

French filmmaker Mia Hansen-Løve speaks to Anthony Carew about her singular vision, on the eve of Goodbye First Love's release.

never went to film-school. The 31-year-old filmmaker – already three features into an impressive career – doesn't think it's remarkable in and of itself, but being an artistic 'outsider' is something she identifies with. Hansen-Løve came to filmmaking via the influence of her love-interest, the film-critic-turned-auteur Olivier Assayas; making her debut with 2007's All Is Forgiven after no time in an academy. This would be a meaningless biographical footnote if not for the fact that Hansen-Løve's pictures move with an unconventional screenwriting rhythm that no one would ever teach, but is only her own.

“I try not to think at all about how a story 'should' be told. I've always had a strong belief in the importance of thinking on your own,” says Hansen-Løve. “When I write, I try to find a way in the structure of all my films that reflects my own way of seeing things and my own experiences, not the established rules of scriptwriting... I have troubles with the way some young filmmakers write scripts; they just feel so conventional to me. Sometimes even in films I like very much. There's something in the way that they write where I can tell they're trying to apply the rules that they've been told about the efficiencies of scriptwriting.”

Her latest oddly-moving picture, Goodbye First Love, chronicles a young love affair over a period of years; intense teenage infatuation unfolding into a portrait of two kids turning into adults. It's about “love and the impossibility of turning a page”, “the passing of time”, “[love] that starts so very young and doesn't ever really go away”, and “how you become who you are”.

The filmmaker talks about taking inspiration from '60s acid-folkies the Incredible String Band, specifically their jam First Girl I Loved. It's telling, because music plays a key part in Hansen-Løve's particular aesthetic. “I don't work with composers, so I feel very free with my choices of music,” she offers. “I enjoyMia Hansen-Løve trying to find music that is both pertinent and to-the-point of the film, but also unexpected, and will give it a new colour. I enjoy creating my own language with the use of music. I love to not use music for a long stretch of the film – 20 minutes, 25 minutes – and then put in one song, one really important song that you will really listen to because it comes after this silence.”

Her idiosyncratic use of pop-song was never more unexpected that at the end of her masterful Father Of My Children – a radically-bissected drama inspired by the life of the late producer Humbert Balsan – when Hansen-Løve flogged the musical dead-horse of Doris Day's Que Sera Sera without irony. “I feel very sincere about music; I try not to care about what other people think, I try to just be honest to my own sensibility,” she offers. “My mother used to sing that to me is a child, because of Hitchock's [The Man Who Knew Too Much]. So I've always loved that song; Que Sera Sera has always moved me. I knew that some people would be shocked by the use of the song, like it was a bad selection, but it was so perfect for that ending: it's a mother singing to her children about life going on.”