Set against the backdrop of the burgeoning feminist movement in Paris, 1971 Summertime sidesteps the snarly politics to concentrate on an intimate love affair.
rowing up on a farm with traditional parents, Delphine (Hegelin) has felt obliged to keep her affair with a local girl quiet. However, when she moves to Paris and is drawn to the 'wild women', as one student describes them, on the local college campus she embraces her sexuality and falls for Spanish teacher Carole (De France), the charismatic leader of the local feminist chapter. Despite Carole being openly straight, living with her long-term boyfriend (Benjamin Bellacour), love blossoms between the two but when Delphine's father is incapacitated after an accident she returns to the farm to help her struggling mother (Lvovsky). Carole shows up but finds a different Delphine – one who has retreated from the confident, proud lesbian she fell in love with…
ike Leaving, the last Catherine Corsini film to make it to these shores (Three Worlds unfortunately wasn’t granted a release), the central romance in Summertime is kept low-key as the writer-director sets out to dodge expectations. Initially the story centres on Delphine and her new-found freedom in Paris but it then develops into a two-hander with Carole, and her difficult breakup with her boyfriend, taking centre stage. She also doesn't wallow in scenes of lovers lounging in the grass on hazy summer days, which she would easily get away with, as the scenes on the farm are kept short and snappy, giving the film a real urgency despite the easy-going vibe. The feminist movement and ideals, responsible for such an upbeat and energetic opening (including a fun sequence where the gang break out a gay friend imprisoned in an asylum for being gay), are too edged into the background.
orsini's film isn't cut and dry. If the allure of country life and the rejection of the city/sexual freedom is a metaphor for Delphine shying away from a normality, life on the farm does not represent male oppression: The local farmers don't blink when Delphine assumes control of her father's farm and, when Delphine sits atop the community's combine harvester she has pitched in to pay for, one man remarks that she’s 'found her place'.
ummertime, with its weighty themes and touching ending, offers more than a few talking points.