Review: Last Summer
- CANNES 2023: Catherine Breillat immerses herself calmly and masterfully in the dizziness, lies, contradictions and manipulations of an incendiary forbidden love
"The last thing we need is to start all over again. We must act as if nothing had happened. I let myself get carried away.” Returning to competition at the 76th Cannes Film Festival with Last Summer [+see also:
interview: Catherine Breillat
film profile], her first film in ten years, Catherine Breillat defied expectations based on her reputation as a sulphurous filmmaker. It’s true, her new opus does take up a controversial subject, that of the affair between a mother-in-law and her stepson, in a reversal of the trend of current debates on the question of consent and the abuse of minors, but the filmmaker does not operate at all in the register of scandal, opting instead for an almost peaceful, luminous and highly detailed immersion in the often contradictory mechanics of desire, with its consequences for the expression of truth and lies. It's a plunge into a familiar environment, into the heart of a family home as if on a desert island, sculpted in a very controlled, attentive, almost pared-down style, which offers a great role to the excellent Léa Drucker (who is also the polar opposite of the character who brought her international fame in Custody [+see also:
interview: Xavier Legrand
"I see troubled kids every day” - “I'm not a kid” - “That remains to be proven." As a lawyer specialising in abuse cases involving minors, Anne knows all about consent and how to make a victim look like a whore. But she herself is about to go through the looking glass, at the crossroads of two possible options, in her personal life, when Théo (Samuel Kircher), her 17-year-old stepson in the throes of a teenage crisis, moves into the family home she shares with her husband Pierre (Olivier Rabourdin) and their two adopted twin daughters. Gradually, the attraction of this young body and the unconscious stirrings of youth instil a vertiginous temptation...
A loose adaptation of the Danish film Queen of Hearts [+see also:
interview: Gustav Lindh
interview: May el-Toukhy
film profile] by May el-Toukhy, Last Summer methodically explores the fine, addictive frontier of pleasure, the ballet of the playful approach to seduction, the impulse to free oneself from the weight of married life, the carnal “letting go” and the waltz of hesitation that follows, the conflict between intellect and desire, loyalty and betrayal. Who is the intruder? Who is manipulating whom? Who is telling the truth and who is lying, or lying to themselves? Navigating the nuances and contrasts with remarkable finesse, Catherine Breillat paints a portrait of a woman that is both sensory and clinical, set in the sunlight sculpted by Jeanne Lapoirie's photography. A rendering of the paradoxical complexity of simplicity woven into a skilful tangle of the unspoken and the acted-out that is anything but politically correct, but which skilfully sidesteps frontal bias in favour of the audience's free interpretation.
Last Summer was produced by SBS Productions. Pyramide International handles international sales.
(Translated from French by Margaux Comte)
Photogallery 25/05/2023: Cannes 2023 - Last Summer
16 pictures available. Swipe left or right to see them all.
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