MOVIES CARESSED BY THE SEA BREEZE
Summer is synonymous with light-heartedness sensuality and ease. A season that is eagerly awaited but, at the same time, greeted with apprehension, where people start to undress revealing centimetres of skin that the winter keeps secretly under cover. It’s impossible to deny the benefits of a healthy dose of melatonin, but equally impossible to deny the fascination, at times unsettling, that this season evokes in us. The heat and freedom and, at times, the (healthy) loss of control leads us to venture into unexpected territories where the fear of the unknown is mixed with the sweet scent of the forbidden.
The cinema has known how to masterfully embrace this ambiguity. A mix that satisfies us and at the same time destabilises us. A universe that is far from the various tiresome “Sapore di Mare” (Time for Loving) films that heavily marked out the eighties, but rather characterized by fresh and seductive movies to savour greedily.
France, it must be said, has given birth to cinema icons who had summer in their DNA. One need only call to mind the “fausse ingénue” Bridget Bardot, the true queen of Saint Tropez who would never have abandoned her Repetto ballerina flats, or again, Eric Rohmer’s various powerful heroines (the unforgettable Amanda Langlet of “Un conte d’été and Pauline à la plage”) who, between one diabolo menthe and the next, amused herself in falsely ingenuous games of seduction.
Still remaining in the terrain of Molière, it is impossible not to cite the divinely subversive “Une robe d’été” from François Ozon, who puts centre stage the emancipation of a homosexual boy who is an unwilling slave of what society is accustomed to calling “gender” (everything set on a wild French beach, s’il vous plait!) or, again, “Les combattants” from Thomas Cailley, where a junoesque Adèle Haenel incarnates the idea of extreme love, to the point of complete exhaustion, in order to survive.
The French (cult) director Philippe Garrel also chose summer, a season that, in his eyes, is synonymous with poetry but at the same time with impossible love, as his preferred season for many of his films. Eros and Thanatos, the pining for a past that won’t return and the impossibility of experiencing a future that now seems devoid of meaning: here is the leitmotif of many of Philippe Garrel movies. Nico, the film director’s partner for many years, became the muse of many of his films, an intriguing mix of biographical elements and poetic digressions. Amongst these unforgettable Garrellian summer frenzies we find “Un été brulant”, “J’entends plus la guitare” (with the ever fabulous Johanna ter Steege) and “Le vent de la nuit” where the burning motorways on the outskirts of Naples become synonymous with the restless feelings of the protagonist Paul.
For many directors summer chimes with adolescence and the discovery of desire. In the Belgian film, “Puppy Love” by Delphine Lehericey, as in the English film, “My summer of Love” by Pawel Pawlikowski, the price to pay for freedom is very high and, after the summer, there is the certainty that nothing will ever be the same again. Also unforgettable is the sensual and elegant “Summer” from the Lithuanian director, Alanté Kavaïté, a moving story about the passage to adulthood that manages to avoid the usual stereotypes.
There are many films that see the summer as a key moment that leads from adolescence to adulthood, but from amongst those that have really left their mark it is impossible not to point out “El ùltimo verano de la Boyita” from the Argentinian director Julia Solomonoff, and the mysterious “Aquele Querido Mês de Agosto” from the enigmatic Miguel Gomes where popular Portuguese culture, truculent and tragic, is transformed into seductive poetry. Last but not least “The Girl”, from Swedish director Fredrik Edfeldt in which a slight young girl with fiery red hair tries out life, between disappointing friendships and the discovery of previously unknown sensations, which range from tenderness to violence; everything wrapped in a light veil of melancholy.
Summer, I wish you’ll never ends.