Tale as Old: Our Review of ‘Last Summer’

Posted in Theatrical by - July 04, 2024
Tale as Old: Our Review of ‘Last Summer’

Anne (Lea Drucker) is a successful lawyer living in rural France, living an expectedly bourgeois life with her sister. She’s also, obliviously, a protagonist in a Catherine Breillat film, which means that there’s a disruption in her life. In Last Summer, that disruption comes in the form of Theo (Samuel Kircher), a Gen-Z punk who acts out. To stop him from doing things like staging break-ins, she befriends him, which turns into them having an inappropriate affair. A remake of a Danish, Trine Dyholm vehicle, this is the kind of situation I call mutually assured destruction. No one can find out about this affair, but everything hinges on how they act if someone says something.

Cinephiles know Catherine Breillat films for the disruption of bourgeois life but that’s basically several decades of French art. To make it more specific for her, maybe it’s the bedroom conversations that get a little tense between characters? One of those tense scenes has Anne telling her husband Pierre (Olivier Rabourdin) about his friends, a tale as old as time. That scene has her becoming like Theo, exhibiting his rebellion like they are symptoms of an ideological infection. Characters in Breillat’s films are inherently horny and stifled, which are basically two sides of the same diabolical coin. Last Summer, for what it’s worth, points to Anne’s malleability and argues, successfully, that everyone is like her.

Also, one can feel Last Summer‘s tale as old era through art direction, costuming, and other filmic elements. Anne waits in manicured shrubbery wearing pret-a-porter as she waits to clandestinely talk to – yell at – Theo. Her office may as well be Versailles but then again every other interior of a French building looks like that. Generations of French people – rich French people – are having affairs, which is also what I don’t like about this. I have nothing against affairs, as someone who’s had them, but all of this feels way too familiar onscreen. This feels more mainstream than Fat Girl but even as this film sands off its edges, everything feels disappointingly similar.

Last Summer also feels like an acting piece but Drucker and the rest of the main cast work it. Credit is especially due to Kircher for turning an otherwise insufferable character into someone whom viewers can sympathise with. His face has that combination of cherubic and devilish, and he’s also able to be still while conveying adolescent fear. His few confrontations with Anne reminds us of the opening scene when Anne prepares a rape victim for trial. She warns that young client that the defence may paint the latter as a world class slut in court. All of this shows that this film, among many things, is about young people coming into the world as prey.

Watch Last Summer in select Canadian theatres.

This post was written by
While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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