Last Summer - Film Review (Alliance Francaise French Film Festival 2024)

Last Summer - Film Review (Alliance Francaise French Film Festival 2024)


Posted 2024-03-04 by Nicholas Gordonfollow

Tue 05 Mar 2024 - Tue 09 Apr 2024

From French director Catherine Breillat comes Last Summer, an intriguing sexual drama adapted from the Danish film Queen of Hearts. The lead character is Anne (Lea Drucker), a sophisticated middle-aged lawyer who lives an enviable life alongside husband Pierre (Olivier Rabourdin) and their two adopted daughters. Anne's life changes when Theo (Samuel Kircher), Pierre's 17-year-old son from a previous marriage, comes to live with the family. A sexual relationship between Anne and Theo and the power dynamics resulting from its messy aftermath concern the rest of the film.

Last Summer opens with an uncomfortable and ultimately ironic scene. Anne is counselling a rape victim, telling a trembling teenager that accusations of promiscuity will be used by the defence lawyers against her, that's just how the system works. Anne is a lawyer representing rape victims and children in custody disputes. She is well-regarded and successful in her work.

Anne's success extends to her home life. She enjoys a loving relationship with husband Pierre, an older businessman who appears to be lovingly married right back at Anne. The couple are devoted parents to adopted twins, with Anne taking on most of the child rearing. Anne's sister also lives close by, has a son a similar age to the twins, and is perhaps slightly resentful of Anne's modern-family bliss.

Waltzing straight into this scene is teenager Theo. Banished from his mother's house in Geneva due to unruly behaviour, Theo is a sullen brat. He loafs around shirtless all day, smokes in the house and is tiresomely uncommunicative. Early on in his stay, Anne manages to convince Theo to go on the straight and narrow - she is aware of an indiscretion that could land Theo in hot water with his father. Anne won't tell Pierre if Theo begins acting like a happy member of the family. Theo begrudgingly agrees and as he spends more time with Anne, attraction forms and a sexual relationship begins. Carrying on and concealing the affair will follow for Anne, and consume and threaten her comfortable existence.

Last Summer tries to deal with a lot of things - power, sexuality, infidelity and predatory behaviour, and the film mostly succeeds as an exploration of these themes. Anne is the focus, a woman who deals in power and retribution every day in her work, sees the resulting consequences and unfairness, yet also sees no qualms in taking everything she knows and using it for her own purposes.

Lea Drucker masterfully gives Anne an enigmatic edge and we're never quite sure what she wants. Is she having a mid-life crisis? Does she regret marrying the much older Pierre? Is she just lashing out over her comfortable domesticity? These are the questions Last Summer poses, and they are asked thoughtfully and with notable style.

Last Summer is playing nationally as part of the Alliance Francaise French Film Festival 2024. Find information on session times, locations and tickets on the festival's official website.

279445 - 2024-03-03 23:48:49


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