Writer-director Catherine Corsini's autobiographically inspired film about the love affair between two women in early 1970s France is both an enthralling romantic drama and a fascinating time capsule of the era. In Summetime (La belle saison), the social attitudes are even more dated than the clothes.
What brings the film vibrantly alive are its lead actresses’ magnetic performances. French rock singer Izïa Higelin is Delphine, a closeted farm girl dazzled by the liberating possibilities of politically turbulent 1971 Paris; and Belgian star Cécile de France is Carole, the charismatic feminist campaigner with whom she falls in love.
The pair couldn’t be more dissimilar. Tall and blonde, Carole oozes sophistication and confidence, while dark-haired country bumpkin Delphine is cautious and secretive. And it’s the couple’s differences that put their passionate relationship under strain when a family emergency compels Delphine to return to the Limousin countryside and help run the family farm.
As the drama unfolds, the choices facing the lovers will have you gripped and probably conflicted as well.
Certificate 15. Runtime mins. Director Catherine Corsini
Summertime is available on DVD from Curzon Artificial Eye.
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A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.