Un été comme ça / That Kind of Summer (Berlinale review)

Un été comme ça / That Kind of Summer (Berlinale review)

Three hypersexual women are spending 26 days in a quiet house by the lake on an experimental program that tries to analyze their sexual experiences. They are: Léonie (serious), Eugénie (impulsive) and Gaëlle aka Geisha (flirtatious). All three are here voluntarily. They are being supervised by a social worker and, less closely, by a therapist. The motto of the undertaking: “hypersexuality is not a disease”. The aim of this experiment is not to heal but rather to enable a frank exploration of different experiences, forms and extremes of desire.

In this new film Denis Côté, the well known director from Quebec, wants to explore female sexuality in its extreme, and canonize the “sexist” term nymphomaniac, as he mentioned in the press conference for the film. In his interview the Canadian filmmaker told the press that he is not some guy that wants to see his actresses naked doing stuff that he never does, but fantasizes about, neither make a pornographic film, as he said you can just get porn with a click of a finger. His criticism on other male filmmakers who made similar films or in general films with women protagonists is indirect but rather clear. He pretty much framed Lars von Trier on his Nymphomaniac films that we saw seven years ago premiering at Berlinale. But the question remains, why did he make such a film?

Of course any filmmaker is allowed to get select his subjects and work freely on them. But Côté himself felt insecure with his choice. He repeatedly mentioned that he consulted for the script with female sexologists to get it right and not being accused of the male gaze. A big part of his interview was about this female gaze that he tried to approach and how women told him he did a great job. But all this discussion seems from the beginning problematic. If he has to ask that much and change his script accordingly to get the female gaze, then probably he was not right to make this film at the first place. That of course doesn’t mean that someone who is not having some experience on an issue should not make a relevant film, with research and hard work. Although when the subject is the opposite sex, and especially during the era we live,  Côté himself cound’t support his claim enough with this film.

Without doubt, when “That Kind of Summer ” succeeds is the performances from the main trio of women. They are powerful together and really well casted on their roles, offering some powerful scenes. The narrative of the film is also far better in contrast to other films from the director, for example “Boris Without Béatrice” that also played in Berlin in 2016. His special camera work with the discreet distance from the characters followed by transgressively close shots intensifies the narration of the difficult to share stories of the three girls.

Grade 2.5 /5

by Denis Côté
with Larissa Corriveau, Aude Mathieu, Laure Giappiconi, Anne Ratte Polle, Samir Guesmi
Country: Canada Year: 2022
Runtime: 137’

Share on Social Media