Zoe Heran in the movie "Tomboy." (Rocket Releasing )
Goodbye First Love
Available on VOD beginning Tuesday
Two outstanding French films by female directors in their early 30s arrive online this week, well in advance of their releases on DVD and Blu-ray. Mia Hansen-Løve's "Goodbye First Love" starts as the story of a teenage romance that ends in heartbreak, and then the movie sticks around for the years-long aftermath. Sebastian Urzendowsky and Lola Créton play the young lovers, separated by circumstance, who reunite years later after their ardor has cooled. As the protagonists struggle to recapture what made them such a hot item once, Hansen-Løve considers how adolescents can love so intensely that it hurts, and how growing up resets people's priorities. "Goodbye First Love" is an honest movie about an everyday tragedy: the death of who we used to be.
Céline Sciamma's "Tomboy" centers on a 10-year-old girl (played by Zoé Héran), who moves to a new town and is delighted to find that she can pass as a boy named Mikael among her new circle of friends. The heroine is at an age where children are separating out by gender and by popularity, and the short-haired, sharp-featured Mikael is so handsome as a boy that males and females alike are immediately drawn to the child. At only 81 minutes long, "Tomboy" mainly only has time to deal with the tense "How long before this poor kid gets found out?" aspect of the story. But Sciamma brings an unforced naturalism to scenes of the youngsters at play, and as with "Goodbye First Love," "Tomboy" is deeply poignant as it reaches the inevitable moment when a golden age ends.
Available on VOD Tuesday.
Universal, $29.99; Blu-ray, $34.98
Writer-director Dee Rees' debut feature is light in the story department, but it's a specific slice of life, about a gay Brooklyn teenager (played by Adepero Oduye) who deals with her disapproving parents and classmates while fumbling her way through a new romance. Rees relies too much on pat melodrama to hold the viewer's attention, but scarcely a minute goes by that "Pariah" doesn't feature some detail that feels real and personal. Credit Oduye's heartfelt, nuanced performance, and Rees' openness about how even in a middle-class African American home, it's not easy to come out as a homosexual. The DVD and Blu-ray contain a trio of featurettes about how this one-of-a-kind movie came to be.
Dark Sky/MPI, $27.98; Blu-ray, $34.98
Retro-horror fans who fell in love with writer-director Ti West's '80s-flavored satanic thriller "The House of the Devil" should also enjoy West's new haunted hotel movie, though it's a little less stylish and a little more comic. Sara Paxton and Pat Healy play employees at a quaint Connecticut inn rumored to be a nexus point for paranormal activity. As these two bumble their way through the mostly vacant hotel, West takes his time developing the atmosphere and the characters, crafting a horror movie that has its share of scares, but is also enjoyable just as a light, funny indie film. The DVD and Blu-ray add a behind-the-scenes featurette and two West commentary tracks: one with Paxton and Healy, and one with his producers.
Universal, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98
Lionsgate, $27.98; Blu-ray, $29.99
Young Goethe in Love
Music Box, $29.95