‘Summer of 85’ review: Denim embraces and steals kisses

When moody, baby-facing Alexis (Felix Lefebvre) drowns on a solo trek off the coast of Normandy, France, he looks up and sees lightning in the distance, including a smiling, Adonis-like boy named David (Benjamin Voisin). ‘s boy. , his savior and the embodiment of the coming storm.

Two teenagers throw themselves into an intense friendship that quickly steals kisses between shifts of a passionate work ride blissed out on country roads, bike rides in denim padded embraces and giddy with flowers. The frothy pop melodies of ’80s bands like The Cure and Bananarama have kept Alexis’ raging coastal romance in the realm of starry memories.

Prolific French director Fran├žois Ozon wants ‘Summer of 85’ to be more than a gay coming-of-age romance “Call me by your name.” With an elliptical narrative that jumps back and forth from the heat of Alexis to an unspecified future, in which she is interviewed by a suspicious caseworker about David’s death, the film aims to be enigmatic and provocative, the idea being To tease that its beloved hero kills out of jealousy. It eventually stumbles in this balancing act and loses its emotional core, but its efforts remain compelling and delightfully bizarre.

Loosely adapted from Aidan Chambers’ young adult novel, “Dance on My Grave,” “Summer of 85,” sees teen romance as outrageous and suffocating in its hormonal power, yet fleeting and confusing.

Less a character study than an exercise in the genre, the film leaves Alexis’s working-class background and the nuances of her sexual awakening unimpressed and undeveloped. As the film moves towards tragedy, the scenes become increasingly bonkers. For example, David’s cool mom (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) breaks down after his death and turns into a grumpy, wild-eyed psycho-biddy. Alexis teams up with a flirty British au pair who gives her a drag makeover and takes her to the morgue. Alexis’ brilliant description of the scene unintentionally exacerbates the absurdity.

Yet unlike many recent LGBTQ romances that have positioned regressive views on homosexuality as a convenient tool for conflict, “Summer of 85” depicts two gay men in a cultural fantasy usually reserved for straight couples. Uses his lively throwback aesthetic: The carnival date ends in a fist fight with a bitter “ex”, star-crossed lovers who sneak around and make morbid, lifelong pacts.

At the end of the film, reflecting on her time with David, Alexis realizes how she has become a character in a fantastic story – a story full of intrigue and drama, yes, but also one that is light. And it is joyful. Very few queer characters, often plagued by tragedy, are so capable of moving on.

85. the heat of
not evaluated. In French and English, with subtitles. Running Time: 1 hour 30 minutes. in Theaters.

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