It’s been said before that the best films are the ones that don’t get lots of attention and “Oscar buzz” – as the film media likes to use during awards season. Such was the case when I discovered Summertime (La Belle Saison), a 2015 French romance film, through my Strong Women in.. Netflix recommendations. Like most Disney and animated films, I tend to stay away from seeing most romance films, as many are misogynist in tone and treat women as if they’re “princesses in distress and can’t live or think without a man”. But Summertime changed all that on this early Christmas Day morning.
FINAL GRADE: A
Directed & Co-Written by Catherine Corsini (with Laurette Polmanss as writer), Summertime tells the simple yet beautiful story of Delphine (Izïa Higelin), daughter of Limousin farmers, who heads to Paris for university study in 1971. It is there in Paris (during the period when the women’s liberation movement was in full swing) that Delphine encounters a local feminist group led by feminist activist Carole (Cécile De France). Delphine soon becomes enamored and swept up into the group where she meets Carole and their close friendship slowly turns into a strong love for each other. The relationship between Carole and Delphine is at its highest until Delphine’s father – and patriarch of the family – suffers a devastating stroke that puts Delphine and Carole’s relationship – and Delphine’s family farm – in jeopardy. Knowing what she has to do – despite her newfound freedom and love for Carole – Delphine returns home to help run the family farm with her mother. But it’s not until Carole follows Delphine home that both strengthens their love yet challenges the conservative fabric of Delphine’s family and farming community itself. One would need to see the film to see how the rest of the story plays out. As far as best films go, Summertime ranks very high on the list.
It’s not often one comes across films like Summertime that stay fresh in one’s mind throughout the day. Summertime isn’t a film that uses a lesbian romance story for exploitation or over-the-top parody; Summertime is a film that pulls one in, captivates, and makes he or she care about and love the headstrong characters of Delphine and Carole. In fact, it makes one wish their story would go on for hours. When that happens, one knows he or she has witnessed first-class filmmaking and storytelling. Lastly, Summertime is a much-needed story about women taking control and fighting for what they believe in and love. And with the turbulent political environment happening now – with women’s rights being under attack – here in the United States, Summertime is the simple, inspiring story the world needs now.