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REVIEW: Summer of 85

Summer in a French seaside town sees a chance meeting between Alexis and David. Alexis sees David as the friend of his dreams and they blur the lines between friendship and lovers, but as with all great teen romances, it seems as though this one may burn out as quickly as it ignited.

The film starts at the end with Alex flashing back to his memories of the summer. Whilst this works as a decent opening to the film, we flit between the two timelines throughout which pulls the audience in and out of the main story and loses the building tension between the young lovers. The leads have chemistry with Benjamin Voisin addictively charismatic as David and director François Ozon captures that inexplainable obsession of young love. Lefebvre portrays the immature and conflicted Alexis well, and whilst we could do with having a more developed backstory to his character, the moments he shares on screen with Voisin are the best of the film.

It’s unfortunate that Voisin is missing for the majority of the final act, as the film feels less electric without him. Instead the story veers away from the realistic and tender relationship that has blossomed between the pair and leans in to a melodramatic and at times farcical ending that struggles to hold the same engagement as the love story at the center of the film. I found the last 30 minutes of the film to drag and whilst we are asked to emphasise with Alexis’ character and the challenging moment he has found himself in, the anguish doesn’t translate on to the screen as I imagine it felt in the original source novel. With David suddenly vanished, we’re left to realise we know very little about Alexis other than his desire for David, and so moments that should feel full of despair and passion instead fall flat.

Overall, it’s a visually pleasing film that captures the essence of not just the time period, but of a summer spent lusting and loving, where life lessons are learnt. It’s more style over substance and the time divided between the summer and the after feels uneven, but when you are able to share time with the two young men, you can feel their excitement radiate.

Summer of 85 – released in cinemas and on Curzon Home Cinema 23rd October.

Summer of 85 (2020) Drama | 1h 40min | 27 May 2021 (Germany) 6.9
Director: François OzonWriters: Aidan Chambers, François OzonStars: Félix Lefebvre, Benjamin Voisin, Philippine VelgeSummary: What do you dream of when you're 16 years old and in a seaside resort in Normandy in the 1980s? A best friend? A lifelong teen pact? Scooting off on adventures on a boat or a motorbike? Living life at breakneck speed? No. You dream of death. Because you can't get a bigger kick than dying. And that's why you save it till the very end. The summer holidays are just beginning, and this story recounts how Alexis grew into himself.

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Clare Brunton

Ex film teacher and frequent couch potato. I try and see at least one new release a week, but I've somehow got to 30 without having seen The Godfather?