After a promising start to his career with films like La spettatore, Paolo Franchi decides to confront (and confound) audience and critics alike with his latest drama “E la chiamano estate” [Eng. Title: And They Call It Summer]. And not in a good way, I’m afraid to say…
The story concerns Dino (Jean-Marc Barr) and Anna (Isabella Ferrari) – a forty-something couple who are presumably deeply in love but have yet to make sexual congress, thanks largely to Dino. Not that he’s suffering from any kind of dysfunction – far from it – he appears to have an above-average libido, and some advanced sexual tastes too. He’s all right frequenting prostitutes and swingers-clubs, but wouldn’t make love to Anna. He implores her to take a lover, and even goes to extraordinary lengths to track down Anna’s former boyfriends (many of whom are now married), begging them to have sex with her, with his blessing. Anna meanwhile, almost masochistically, convinces herself that Dino loves her so deeply that he couldn’t even contemplate penetrative sex.
The film is liberally sprinkled with imagery of sex and tries its darnedest to shock the audience. Now, I don’t usually have a problem with that, provided they propel the screenplay. But unfortunately, Franchi seems to have lost himself along the way, and what we see is the visual equivalent of listening to someone repeat himself. I’m fine if the director thinks Dino’s behaviour doesn’t need to be justified, but there must at least be a purpose behind making the film. We are instead given some unconvincing reason for Dino’s actions, and the non-existent characterisation leads us to not so much care about any of the protagonists. Even the presence of seasoned actors fail to redeem it, and coupled with mediocre technical features, the film has turned into a bit of a disaster.
Even Jean-Marc Barr suggests during an interview among the DVD extras, that the film is likely to fare better on DVD rather than the cinemas. Well, perhaps it’ll gain cult-status down the line as Italian films often do, but then again, I wouldn’t count on it, as this is one of the most atypical Italian films I’d seen of late. I have to admit that my only reason for watching the film was Isabella Ferrari. She doesn’t disappoint – in fact, this is one of her more daring appearances in film, and perhaps that’ll be the only reason one would want to have it in their collection.
The Nudity: Isabella Ferrari, Caterina Valente, Eva Riccobono, Jean-Marc Barr, Filippo Nigro, Christian Burruano, and others
As suggested above, the film is replete with intermittent scenes of nudity and sex, some of which are explicit by today’s standards. Isabella Ferrari in particular hits the charts following her notorious performance in the 2008 film Caos Calmo. 😉