Summertime

The French seem to have the monopoly on lesbian coming of age dramas. After Blue Is The Warmest Colour comes Summertime****, a lovely dreamy 1971-set romance between farm girl Delphine (Izia Higelin) and sophisticated Parisienne feminist Carole, the gorgeous Cecile de France.

Director Catherine Corsini recaptures the heady days of women’s lib and the rush of post-68 student power. But her prime achievement is in conveying the ecstasy of love and sex, the afternoons of illicit sweaty love and eating biscuits in the sheets. “It’s like I live three months in one week,” says Delphine, perfectly summing up the giddy onset of an all-consuming love.

Corsini is also good contrasting urban and rural, the streets and smoke-filled garrets of Paris with the farm life in Limousin where Delphine has to return following her father’s stroke. Carole follows her there, and puts small town conservatism to the test.

I loved the lithe, sexual poetry of this film (called La Belle Saison in French), superbly acted by both women, Cecile de France putting her star wattage to use with her fabulous hair, cool jeans and easy charisma. Perhaps it can’t boast the emotional depth or political subtlety of a masterpiece, but it has plenty of its own moments of magic. And lots of sex. There’s a wonderful little sequence of Delphine leaving Carole’s room at dawn, to tip-toe back to her own bed avoiding a creaky floorboard, a cinema moment that is just a perfect bit of memory. I’ve done this, long ago – I hope everyone has at some point in their lives – but if you haven’t, well,  it’s just like it is in Corsini’s film.

It’s the sort of cherishable, unheralded film you might wander into because most other stuff at the cinema is a bit crap at the moment, and you’ll feel like you’ve found something new, emerging light as air, refreshed, enchanted, feeling like you’ve been on holiday.

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