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Movie Reviews

A Summer Of Love  

As I write this, the land around me has just felt another day of sunshine and gradually warming tempretures. In a few weeks, the weather will become even more humid, the heat growing more immense, that I, personally, can see myself growing more lethargic, more lazy, more wishing that I was not working at all this summer, and only lying about the house. With this general relaxing of the body comes a feeling of less to worry about. The heat must affect the brain somehow, as many people seem to acquire a carefree attitude about almost everything.

A Summer of Love is a fluffy little Polish film about people who like to believe that summer is all about being carefree, yet, in acting this way, suffer the consequences. The film is basically a rountine but somewhat pleasent excursion into romantic conventions.

Alexander is a young student who decides to get away from it all for a few weeks, staying at his uncle`s countryside house. Living with the uncle is the daughter Sonia. Even though Alexander and Sonia are cousins, they seem pretty eager to have a secret affair. Perhaps in Eastern Europe, there isn`t much of a taboo on cousins having a little fun together. Anyway, Sonia has a greater need to keep this affair secret, as she also tries her damnest to please her father, who attempts to marry her off to an older, wealthy, and (in her mind) far less interesting person. As well, she has another trick up her sleeve, by planning to use Nathile, a woman staying at the house, as a decoy, so the uncle will believe Alex has been smitten with this new girl.

Sonia, what a tricky girl she is. She attempts, in her own little way, to keep Alex in her grasp. One of the somewhat amusing moments include her comment to him that her and Nathile are going to the lake for a bathe, and practically dares him not to secretly follow them on his rowboat. Of course, he does follow them to catch a view, and guess which of the women are naked? This charade continues for a time, but then Alex becomes more intriged by this seemingly perfect woman. Yet he is not so committed as to forget about his nightly romp with Sonia.

While Sonia is a brash sort, Nathile is a romantic idealist, discussing the only time she`s ever fallen in love. She hasn`t found Mr. Right, as a result, but this guy might just very well do.

And Alexander is pretty bland and with few convictions, which is delibrate. His narration at the beginning states that this one summer he was looking for romance, not love - he only wants a summer fling. So, of course, it`s easy for him to feel happy, not remorseful, for playing with the affections of two different women. I also liked the notion that his lack of conviction in love spreads to non-romantic elements. He is subjected to some ribbing over his rather unique (in his time and place) position of being an apolitical university student. He doesn`t have any conviction about anything, and this results in problems later on.

The plot involves a number of classical ideas (I knew that English degree didn`t go to waste!!). The pastoral genre is invoked, by the atmosphere and countryside setting. Hunting, farming, and, of course, young lovers frolicing in the countryside are typical pastoral events, far away from urban problems. The dynamic between the lovers is pretty traditional. Sonia is outspoken, brash, more overtly sexual, and the fact that her tryst is with her cousin adds to the impurity of this character, while Nathile is innocent, naive and perfect, and, of course, the ideal lover. This is not excatly very liberating for women, and is, overall, a pretty dated premise, but I did actually like the people, which elevates them beyond stereotype.

A Summer of Love is not a classic, not even close. It took a while for me to warm to, because I could only see it as a breezy, unimportant story.... but the full implications don`t surface until the end. And it is the sort of quiet, fluffy, nostalgic film which seems to attract certain people. Period films are liked because they evoke an innocent, long-ago past, of gentlemen and ladies, of courting, of when politeness was expected of everyone. In terms of dialouge, this film is pratically G-rated. And while there are a few racy bits, mostly notably a brief moment when Alex accidently steps in on the maid and stableboy upon a very unstable piece of furniture, the film itself does not have the feeling of scandal, only of young love in the countryside. Also, the scenery is great, and seeing young lovers frolicing in lakes and garden paths and country roads is enough to make you want to take some lovely person to a place like this for two weeks? And if any of my lovely female friends are reading this right now, may you give me a call right now and accept such a wonderful invitation as two weeks in the country!

David Macdonald

David Macdonald's Movie Reviews

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