“A summer like that” or the shadows and beauty of the devil in the body

It is never told in the film to what extent what we see there refers to real practices. And that doesn’t matter.

Are there really in Canada, in Quebec in this case, such rural areas, where women who are separated from society are welcome, with heavy obligations linked to the addictive behavior in which sexuality plays, in different ways, an important role? The viewer, if he avoids getting information elsewhere, will not know anything about it. Better.

They are legion, the films shown at the opening of “According to a true story”. There is a bit of pathetic to take refuge behind such a proclamation. Because the truth, the truth of the film, comes from the film itself, from what is active in it, and not from the fact that its scenario refers to more or less literal events that actually happened.

And in fact, most films that claim to be “based on a true story” are lies. It’s as if the buoy of journalistic authenticity has freed them from knowing how to swim in their cinematic swimming. A summer like this it is the opposite; A summer like this is a real movie.

It is true what is at stake there in every moment, including the most paroxysmal or most transgressive situations. True to the truth of actions and feelings, to the living relationship of bodies. A scene, far enough from the course of this beautiful THE summeroffers a radical metaphor.

A house in the woods

While this scene is happening, we see three women of different ages and looks, Léonie, Geisha and Eugenie, who are welcomed in a comfortable house in the woods, near a lake. Will they get out of prison, medical or psychological treatment? We don’t know.

Upon arrival, they were reminded that they were there voluntarily, and that they would not be considered sick or prisoners. Then?

We see that they are not good, that they are tormented by desires, impulses, habits, which lead them to do harm, certainly to themselves, and perhaps to others. Later they recount the traumas, the violence endured, the deceptions. Certainly not all. And maybe not everything will be true.

Octavia (Anne Ratte-Polle), Léonie (Larissa Corriveau) and Eugénie (Laure Giappiconi) during the secrets. | Shellac

They are welcomed for a month by the manager of the place, Octavia, a German therapist who also has her own personal worries, and by Sami, the only man in the house, a social worker endowed with inexhaustible I’m sorry that he seems close. of fatalism.. Or refers to one’s own part of the secret.

In the course of a series of situations in which one or more of these people appear, a story is composed at each step, which has something to say about their situation, their motives, their future; but a skein of links, views, silences, clear or not, broken or respected agreements, of movements, verbal, sensory circulation.

A rare and painful work of art

One day, the three inhabitants of this place of uncertain situation have the right to an outing, each on his own, according to his wishes. This is where the scene mentioned above took place.

One of them, Léonie, went to a place where she submitted, or rather offered herself, to a session of slavery. A very sophisticated and intricate operation, its unfolding will be shown with attention to each knot, each addition of a string that restrains the flesh and changes its place in space.

Freeing links? | Shellac

It is a ceremony that, as it unfolds, reveals itself to be extremely tender, inextricably linked to the pain that cannot be avoided. It is a real work of art, which is killed alive by the naked woman suspended and the one who ties her with the knowledge of a master craftsman.

Where is the violence, which actually exists? Who commands, who controls, from what desires are born these movements, executed in an almost religious silence?

Without the slightest inclination for this kind of practice, one cannot, as it is filmed, deny its mysterious intensity, which makes one able to observe practices, ways of being, movement within which one does not need recognition.

Abundant availability

By what Denis Côté, that his fourteen films since The Nordic States in 2005 established without question as one of the most interesting authors of contemporary cinema (and not only one of the best directors of Quebec), through which Denis Côté, therefore, honors the most beautiful powers of cinema ?

In other words, he does not stop opening other possibilities to see, to understand, and finally to love these women who have many reasons to be understood through categories that tend to be locked.

The goals of the Geisha (Aude Mathieu) between the game of desire and the desire to play Shellac

We are talking here about the three women around whom the film is certainly built, but it also applies to the two people responsible for welcoming them, and even, in a clever way, for this woman behind takes care of stewardship.

By occupying completely different positions, each and everyone contributes to this generous existence.

Generous for whom? For the characters, of course, also thanks to the strength and subtlety of the interpretations. But also generous for us, the viewers who, thanks to the movie, we know better than we thought.

Posing together despite everything that separates them, the five inhabitants of the house in the woods (right, Samir Guesmi). | Shellac

Because it was impossible in the beginning not to put labels on these three women. Crazy, obsessed, nymphos, wrecks, lost, are pejorative labels, but do we label them as rebellious, act, pathetic, do we see them as victims or as heroes, which will still close them.

The whole development of the film, very attentive to the different movements, sometimes contradictory, sometimes inexplicable, precisely leads to reopening to them – and also to the transmission to the other protagonists – one existence without meaning summed up.

The most beautiful thing is that there is a real joy, as a viewer, thus brought to action, mentally and emotionally. To know oneself capable of other appearances and other perspectives. A summer like this such a lovely gift.

Reviews of the film by Jean-Michel Frodon can be seen in the program “Cultural Affinities” by Tewfik Hakem, on Saturdays from 6 am to 7 am on French Culture.

A summer like this

by Denis Côté

with Laure Giappiconi, Larissa Corriveau, Aude Mathieu, Anne Ratte-Polle, Samir Guesmi


Duration: 2h17

Released July 27, 2022

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