Director: Catherine Corsini
Screenplay: Catherine Corsini, Laurette Polmanss
Producers: Michael Finnell
Starring: Cécile De France, Izïa Higelin, Noémie Lvovsky
Country: France, Belgium
BBFC Certification: 15
Duration: 105 min
In the film’s opening we meet Delphine, a warm and caring country girl living in the South of France. She helps her overworked father run their family farm and is clearly comforted here, enjoying the peaceful, purposeful life the countryside provides. But the perisitance of her father; ‘when will you marry’ and ‘you move to slowly to hold down a suitable man’, coupled with the unrelenting (but oddly patient) advances of long-term friend Antoine, drive her to wanting something more.
Like many young go-getter protagonists we’ve seen before, Delphine decides to spirit herself away to the big city, to get her own apartment, office job and and her very own (outstandingly 70’s) patent oxblood leather jacket. Thankfully, Summertime refuses to dwell on this somewhat cliched plot point, propelling forward within moments of Delphine arriving in Paris. Delphine is swept up in the unstoppable momentum of a women’s lib group run by the enigmatic Carole. Carole is undeniably mesmerising – I am now not only describing the plot, but my personal impression of Carole, I think I love her, but that is another story all together. Carole and Delphine have an undeniable chemistry, but their own hesitations about each other are clear – Carole has a lovely, loving, live-in boyfriend and although open and accepting of people of all sexualities, is at this point, a pretty self-assured heterosexual. Perhaps Delphine is selfish in her advances, but until later in the film, that thought will barely cross your mind, Carole and Delphine are so obviously, so pleasingly in love that character motivations really don’t matter. You are all but heartless if you don’t get swept up in their enthrallment.
This is all reitterated by the films aesthetics; the film is gorgeously shot. It’s syrupy golden tones create a warm glow about the entire film that allows you – in it’s more joyous of moments – to bask in the love and happiness of it’s protagonists, and you suddenly find yourself all lost in the high and hazy atmosphere of Paris in the 1970’s.
The cast of Summertime is also ideal, talent stretching beyond just the protagonists – from the gaggle of golden-haired, self assured young feminists running wild through the city pinching mens bums in the name of women’s rights, to the stuffy, hard-working countrymen of Delphine’s hometown. Each character is well written and developed, and the actors – whilst clearly sinking their teeth into their roles – often manage to remain subtle and nuanced. This is incredibly fitting with the tone of the entire film, which relies quite heavily on shared glances and shifting moods. It makes the film flow very naturally, which in turn makes it feel honest, and relatable.
As the plot progresses, the film is quick to remind us of it’s historical context; after a family tragedy, Delphine decides she must return to the country and support her family, and though decison clearly weighs on her emotionally, but a part of her stills seems more at peace here than she ever was in the city. When an enamoured Carole decides to join her however, the dizzy joys of free and liberated love that have been observing aren’t looked on as fondly as we have come to expect. It’s a harsh juxtaposition from the filmmakers, in which they unleash something so effervescent, and then show it being forcibly contained, hidden, and denied.
Summertime is a historially poignant romance; warm, subtle and deliciously sensual, it is punctuated with notes of an honest sadness that prevent it from becoming sickly or soapy. I strongly reccomend using it to fill up a lazy weekend afternoon, it will make you feel cosy and loved and full.
Summertime is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Monday 12th September 2016.