Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Isabelle Adjani & co in "L'Été Meurtrier" [1983 France]

I'm not sufficiently acquainted with the work of Jean Becker to comment here yet, but of the ones I've seen, his relatively recent film "Dialogue avec mon Jardinier" remains my favourite. His 1983 film, "L'Été Meurtrier" [Eng. Title: One Deadly Summer] is a mystery drama, which becomes apparent only around the halfway mark. It draws on elements across diverse genres - comedy, family, erotica, exploitation, and revenge, to name a few. But what's outstanding on the part of Becker is the manner in which he put them all together without making the film look incoherent, thanks to a fine screenplay (interestingly using characters to narrate parts of their story in background), crisp editing, and some excellent performances by the lead actors.

Notably that of Isabelle Adjani, truly one of the most beautiful and talented actresses in cinema. Record holder of the most César Awards won by an actress, she's a quintessentially French icon forged from Algerian and German parentage - how exotic is that! And ironic too, considering the heated debate as ever on immigration in the current French Presidential campaign. Ms. Adjani won a César for this film too, her second of five to date, playing a disturbed nineteen year old looking for revenge. What she brings to the screen cannot be directed, it had to come from within. But fortuitous though it might be, it required a director of Becker's class to capture that performance in the best possible manner to help narrate his story. Which he does admirably. Needless to say, Recommended Viewing..! DVD Link
(Having purchased two other editions prior to the one above, I wouldn't recommend anything else.)

Set in the 1970's, Eliane is the local village belle somewhere in the south of France. She arrived with her parents when little, and with rumours about their history floating, the village-folk have always looked down upon her family. But that doesn't get in the way Eliane's determination to become the most desired woman around, and she succeeds easily. But beyond her winning looks, she has a burning urge to seek revenge on the people responsible for her mother's rape (and her resultant birth). She feels her very existence is based on a violent act and this is her way of coming to terms with it. After learning of a piano in the household of local mechanic and part-time fireman Florimondo aka 'Pin-Pon', she thinks she had discovered one of the perpetrators. She sets her cross-hair on Florimondo, his son, and wins him over in no time before moving into his family home, even getting married. But things take an unexpected turn, and ALL is not what they seemed at the beginning...

Compilation: Virginie Vignon, Isabelle Adjani, Maria Machado, and Evelyne Didi
Some of the scenes reviewed don't contain nudity, but they're amusing, sexy, and broadly in keeping with the blog's theme. Certainly interesting nevertheless..!

Virginie Vignon, Isabelle Adjani, Maria Machado, and Evelyne Didi in L'Été Meurtrier
Scene Guide:
  • Florimondo sometimes comes for a 'late show' at the local cinema with the owner's wife. The naughty woman is played by Virginie Vignon.
  • No nudity - village belle Eliane sure is one heck of a crowd head-turner, Florimondo merely being one among them. Eliane of course, is played by the incredibly talented and alluring (even if a tad skinny in this film) Isabelle Adjani.
  • Thanks to some help from his younger brother, Florimondo manages to tag along with Elaine for a drink at a travelling dance club, but her attitude and swagger keeps throwing him off - she's just too hot for him to handle and the frustrated chap excuses himself soon after.
  • After learning about the disused piano from his brother, Eliane becomes suddenly interested in Florimondo and asks him out on a date, also getting his suggestions on the best dress to wear.
  • After spending the night with Florimondo at the barn, she wakes up early to look for the piano. Still in the nude, she walks outside to catch his mother's eye glaring at her. Now is Eliane bothered - hardly..!
  • This is one of the few scenes that don't succeed in serving their purpose. The following morning, Eliane returns home depressed and seeks comfort in mother Paula's arms. This is supposed to be a tender moment of mother-daughter bonding when Eliane is suckled by her mother, but for me at least, it misfires grandly, given that Eliane doesn't exhibit this side of her nature anywhere else in the film. Far from it - she revels in her sexual prowess throughout.
  • Brothers tease Florimondo as he gets busy with Eliane.
  • No nudity but funny - Florimondo introduces Eliane to his family. His mother could barely conceal her contempt for her, and pointing at something Eliane was holding, asks what she'd already taken from the house. A defiant Eliane waves what she's been holding - her 'culotte' - apparently she doesn't wear them for longer than a day. Florimondo uses this moment to tell his mum that Eliane is moving in - oh, talk about timing..! :-)
  • Eliane assures Florimondo that she won't forget to wear her knickers in future.
  • But she needs to bathe now and there's not enough space in her room for her bathtub. Cue for another funny scene as Florimondo's mother and aunt have to now put up with Eliane's brash and naked presence in the kitchen.
  • The film takes a dark turn while recounting the brutal rape of Eliane's mother many years ago. The scene comes out of the blue when you least expect it - it is disturbing, and positively shocking. Eliane's mother Paula is played by Maria Machado.
  • Calamité is obviously besotted by Eliane, her erstwhile student. She'd do anything for a passionate kiss from her. Eliane knows that too well, and uses it to her advantage - her putty in her hands. At a restaurant, she challenges Calamité to remove her bra behind her transparent shirt, and she complies, claiming her reward in the car on their way back. Calamité is played by Evelyne Didi.
  • Eliane is about to get married after claiming she's pregnant, here she's trying out stuff with her seamstress mom.
  • Eliane visits a timber merchant at a nearby town believing him to be her 'father', and the man, not knowing who she is, instantly falls under her spell. He just can't take his eyes nor hands off her.
  • When Eliane nonchalantly admits that she might indeed not be pregnant, a furious Florimondo lashes at her, and family arrive to help.
  • He pleads her not to hide things from him. Eliane assures him it is he she loves, and that he needn't be too worried by her eccentric behaviour.


No comments:

Post a Comment