Summer'85 – Sailing over the Catcher in the Rye

REVIEW
by Anastasia Ageeva
20.12.2020
Every story that a French director François Ozon brings to the screen presupposes a path full of obstacles at the end of which disaster cannot be avoided. His last work By the Grace of God (2018) is an artistic rendition of real events related to pedophilia in the Catholic Church. Childhood trauma haunts the heroes and negatively affects their attempts to live in the present. Double Lover (2017) is a psychological thriller with a smooth and tense approach to the inevitable.
In Frantz (2016) the world is split into two parts by the First World War. After it a Frenchman who killed a German man in battles appears at the doorstep of his family house. 8 Women (2011) which made Ozon famous all over the world, is a detective story about a violent death in the French countryside, which, if we investigate the circumstances, reveals too many family secrets.

François Ozon makes films almost every year, but despite the fundamental thematic line in most of his works (homosexual heroes), the issues can be very different. Summer'85 (2020) is about life and death, love and memory. And also about promises. The reason we had a chance to see this story is because Alexi (Felix Lefebvre) pledged to dance on the grave of David (Benjamin Voisin) in case the latter dies first. The novel by Briton Aidan Chambers that was the primary source of the adaptation is called «Dance on My Grave» . It was written and published back in 1982.

When we first meet Alexi, we see a modest guy fascinated by the idea of death. In his room there are posters with pharaohs, and later we will learn how many ways of how to die he is aware of. But when the prospect of accidentally drowning during a storm ceases to appeal to him, the handsome David comes to the rescue. This guy looks like the young man from the Old Testament description of David who, with his bare hands, saves the army of the Israelites from Goliath. Alexi cannot and does not want to resist this sudden and heightened interest of the stranger, so he happily falls into a romantic relationship. But just as the legend of the battle with the giant remains the subject of historical controversy, so does David's enthusiasm turn out to be caused by other reasons.
What Ozon strives for is to break down the viewers and put those pieces of them together in the right order. The director uses a two-act structure which is schematically similar to a positive parabola. The development of events, however impetuous it might seem, occurs according to a simple life logic — first love always tightens deeper because it seems to be infinite. We fall in love with David, as well as Alex: we adore his style of dress, the ability to find positive moments around him, the everlasting smile, and philosophical reflections. This charming 18-year-old boy becomes an ideal for the main character and for us, although we know him no longer
than twenty minutes.



The parallel with Call Me by Your Name (2017) by Luca Guadagnino is obvious. This comparison is ideologically supported by Ozon himself who made the trailer full of romantic shots. It cannot be labeled as deceiving because the atmosphere and settings of the stories overlap indeed: summer vacations, first feelings, disappointments, and attempts to live on. But the french version puts emphasis not on the sincerity of feelings, but on their deceptive nature. "We make up those we love" is an important and already proven thesis of this story which allows us to look at the world not so charmingly, but no less in love.

The integrity and spirit of the times are created with the help of music, and in Summer'85 it is not just a background. Many directors are striving to use a soundtrack not for the glamour of a scene but to convey a specific message, perhaps even some clearly formulated idea through it. The task is really difficult. Ozon's music is as authentic as possible, which also distinguishes his work from Guadagnino's film. Summer'85 was originally supposed to be called Summer'84. Everything has changed because of one song which was released a year after. The frontman of The Cure, Robert Smith, did not agree to sell the rights to the song In Between Days until creators renamed the film.

But Sailing by Rod Stewart is an even more important composition. Its text not only reflects the plot of the film but also evokes the image of David as a savior. Plus, it gives us a hint to his intentions when he unexpectedly puts headphones on Alexi at the disco. At that moment they become close, but their movements are no longer synchronized. This is a demonstration of the obvious barrier between young men — they see love in different ways. Ozon has always succeeded in the combination of music and visuals — 8 Women is made from music clips.
François Ozon mentioned book «The Catcher in the Rye» during a Q&A-session after the premiere. Jerome D. Salinger's work has a lot in common with Summer'85. A gallon of brutal reality is poured onto the reader. Surprisingly, situational and sudden humour coexists with depression in both works. This spirit of youth, combined with the relative simplicity of the depicted time, charms and brings the audience closer to the main characters and their drama morally. Ozon failed to make us worry about the heroine in Double Lover, for example. Chloe does not evoke pity and does not require our understanding — she is extremely cold and extravagant, and her actions are verified, just like camera movements under the direction of Manuel Dacosse.

The novel and the film bear similarities in their approach to storytelling. The book begins with Holden speaking directly to the reader and telling about "that crazy story that happened last Christmas". Alexi himself writes a novel about his relationship with David, also beginning the film with thinking aloud; and, possibly, with quotes from his creation. The arrogant and lazy Holden, as Salinger introduces him to the reader, and the French teenager only have one quality in common — they know absolutely nothing about their future.
The author of this article stopped feeling her body at the climax of Summer'85. This is not a beautiful metaphor, but a state of real shock. Elegance and pleasant atmosphere of the film do not hide that it is about difficult things. And they must hit like a wave in a storm — only then this shock will be meaningful.
 
Summer'85 – Sailing over the Catcher in the Rye

REVIEW
by Anastasia Ageeva
20.12.2020
Every story that a French director François Ozon brings to the screen presupposes a path full of obstacles at the end of which disaster cannot be avoided. His last work By the Grace of God (2018) is an artistic rendition of real events related to pedophilia in the Catholic Church. Childhood trauma haunts the heroes and negatively affects their attempts to live in the present. Double Lover (2017) is a psychological thriller with a smooth and tense approach to the inevitable.
In Frantz (2016) the world is split into two parts by the First World War. After it a Frenchman who killed a German man in battles appears at the doorstep of his family house. 8 Women (2011) which made Ozon famous all over the world, is a detective story about a violent death in the French countryside, which, if we investigate the circumstances, reveals too many family secrets.

François Ozon makes films almost every year, but despite the fundamental thematic line in most of his works (homosexual heroes), the issues can be very different. Summer'85 (2020) is about life and death, love and memory. And also about promises. The reason we had a chance to see this story is because Alexi (Felix Lefebvre) pledged to dance on the grave of David (Benjamin Voisin) in case the latter dies first. The novel by Briton Aidan Chambers that was the primary source of the adaptation is called «Dance on My Grave» . It was written and published back in 1982.

When we first meet Alexi, we see a modest guy fascinated by the idea of death. In his room there are posters with pharaohs, and later we will learn how many ways of how to die he is aware of. But when the prospect of accidentally drowning during a storm ceases to appeal to him, the handsome David comes to the rescue. This guy looks like the young man from the Old Testament description of David who, with his bare hands, saves the army of the Israelites from Goliath. Alexi cannot and does not want to resist this sudden and heightened interest of the stranger, so he happily falls into a romantic relationship. But just as the legend of the battle with the giant remains the subject of historical controversy, so does David's enthusiasm turn out to be caused by other reasons.
What Ozon strives for is to break down the viewers and put those pieces of them together in the right order. The director uses a two-act structure which is schematically similar to a positive parabola. The development of events, however impetuous it might seem, occurs according to a simple life logic — first love always tightens deeper because it seems to be infinite. We fall in love with David, as well as Alex: we adore his style of dress, the ability to find positive moments around him, the everlasting smile, and philosophical reflections. This charming 18-year-old boy becomes an ideal for the main character and for us, although we know him no longer than twenty minutes.

The parallel with Call Me by Your Name (2017) by Luca Guadagnino is obvious. This comparison is ideologically supported by Ozon himself who made the trailer full of romantic shots. It cannot be labeled as deceiving because the atmosphere and settings of the stories overlap indeed: summer vacations, first feelings, disappointments, and attempts to live on. But the french version puts emphasis not on the sincerity of feelings, but on their deceptive nature. "We make up those we love" is an important and already proven thesis of this story which allows us to look at the world not so charmingly, but no less in love.

The integrity and spirit of the times are created with the help of music, and in Summer'85 it is not just a background. Many directors are striving to use a soundtrack not for the glamour of a scene but to convey a specific message, perhaps even some clearly formulated idea through it. The task is really difficult. Ozon's music is as authentic as possible, which also distinguishes his work from Guadagnino's film. Summer'85 was originally supposed to be called Summer'84. Everything has changed because of one song which was released a year after. The frontman of The Cure, Robert Smith, did not agree to sell the rights to the song In Between Days until creators renamed the film.

But Sailing by Rod Stewart is an even more important composition. Its text not only reflects the plot of the film but also evokes the image of David as a savior. Plus, it gives us a hint to his intentions when he unexpectedly puts headphones on Alexi at the disco. At that moment they become close, but their movements are no longer synchronized. This is a demonstration of the obvious barrier between young men — they see love in different ways. Ozon has always succeeded in the combination of music and visuals — 8 Women is made from music clips.
François Ozon mentioned book «The Catcher in the Rye» during a Q&A-session after the premiere. Jerome D. Salinger's work has a lot in common with Summer'85. A gallon of brutal reality is poured onto the reader. Surprisingly, situational and sudden humour coexists with depression in both works. This spirit of youth, combined with the relative simplicity of the depicted time, charms and brings the audience closer to the main characters and their drama morally. Ozon failed to make us worry about the heroine in Double Lover, for example. Chloe does not evoke pity and does not require our understanding — she is extremely cold and extravagant, and her actions are verified, just like camera movements under the direction of Manuel Dacosse.

The novel and the film bear similarities in their approach to storytelling. The book begins with Holden speaking directly to the reader and telling about "that crazy story that happened last Christmas". Alexi himself writes a novel about his relationship with David, also beginning the film with thinking aloud; and, possibly, with quotes from his creation. The arrogant and lazy Holden, as Salinger introduces him to the reader, and the French teenager only have one quality in common — they know absolutely nothing about their future.
The author of this article stopped feeling her body at the climax of Summer'85. This is not a beautiful metaphor, but a state of real shock. Elegance and pleasant atmosphere of the film do not hide that it is about difficult things. And they must hit like a wave in a storm — only then this shock will be meaningful.
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