Friday, April 03, 2015

Flare: Sultry Summer Days

Teenaged girls. Rural towns. Unrelenting summer heat. What could possibly go wrong? Well, two films show what happens when girls looking for something to happen find what they're looking for.

The Argentine drama Atlantida is languid, understated and, well, a bit tedious. Swotty Lucia is left in charge of her younger sister Elena, who's broken her leg. Save for the occasional dawn swim, Lucia has not very much to look forward to, as she studies for her exams, hoping to move to Buenos Aires for uni. As the film unfolds over one extremely long day, Lucia finds herself attracted to Ana, a friend of her sister's, while Elena tags along with the family doctor. A storm is imminent, the signs are set..... but not much actually happens. Such a disappointment.

The Dutch drama Summer sets its stall out early, in another rural household, as Ms. Silent, later revealed to be actually called Anne, narrates the summer her life changed. This quirky and very stylish film captured my attention much more fully than did Atlantida, as Anne matter-of-factly describes the wife-beaters, rapists and child thugs who populate her town, all existing under the beady eye of the town business, the nuclear power plant that seems to have a hold, a force field, over everyone. When Lena, a mixed race biker, arrives in town, her presence seems to disturb the torpor in which everyone lives, including Anne. While the plot may lack orginality, the execution is spot on, and the soundtrack, of jauntily retro tunes, provides a kind of psychedelic haze through which the narrative unfolds. I actually have no idea in what decade the film is meant to be set. It could be anywhere from the 1960s-onward. Very impressive work from writer Marjolein Bierens and director Colette Bothof.

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