Isabelle Adjani & co in “L’Été Meurtrier” [1983 France]

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I’m not sufficiently acquainted with the work of Jean Becker to comment here yet, but of the ones I’ve seen, his relatively recent film “Dialogue avec mon Jardinier” remains my favourite. His 1983 film, “L’Été Meurtrier” [Eng. Title: One Deadly Summer] is a mystery drama, which becomes apparent only around the halfway mark. It draws on elements across diverse genres – comedy, family, erotica, exploitation, and revenge, to name a few. But what’s outstanding on the part of Becker is the manner in which he put them all together without making the film look incoherent, thanks to a fine screenplay (interestingly using characters to narrate parts of their story in background), crisp editing, and some excellent performances by the lead actors.

Notably that of Isabelle Adjani, truly one of the most beautiful and talented actresses in cinema. Record holder of the most César Awards won by an actress, she’s a quintessentially French icon forged from Algerian and German parentage – how exotic is that! And ironic too, considering the heated debate as ever on immigration in the current French Presidential campaign. Ms. Adjani won a César for this film too, her second of five to date, playing a disturbed nineteen year old looking for revenge. What she brings to the screen cannot be directed, it had to come from within. But fortuitous though it might be, it required a director of Becker’s class to capture that performance in the best possible manner to help narrate his story. Which he does admirably. Needless to say, Recommended Viewing..! DVD Link [PAL]
(Having purchased two other editions prior to the one above, I wouldn’t recommend anything else.)

Set in the 1970’s, Eliane is the local village belle somewhere in the south of France. She arrived with her parents when little, and with rumours about their history floating, the village-folk have always looked down upon her family. But that doesn’t get in the way Eliane’s determination to become the most desired woman around, and she succeeds easily. But beyond her winning looks, she has a burning urge to seek revenge on the people responsible for her mother’s rape (and her resultant birth). She feels her very existence is based on a violent act and this is her way of coming to terms with it. After learning of a piano in the household of local mechanic and part-time fireman Florimondo aka ‘Pin-Pon’, she thinks she had discovered one of the perpetrators. She sets her cross-hair on Florimondo, his son, and wins him over in no time before moving into his family home, even getting married. But things take an unexpected turn, and ALL is not what they seemed at the beginning…

Virginie Vignon, Isabelle Adjani, Maria Machado, and Evelyne Didi in L'Été Meurtrier

Isabelle Adjani gives a stirring performance as a disturbed nineteen year old seeking revenge in Jean Becker’s 1983 mystery drama, “L’Été Meurtrier”.



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