Summer 85: François Ozon revisits the teen movie [critique]

After the poignant Thanks to God, François Ozon offers himself a summer break but not so bright.

Released in cinemas in the summer of 2020, Summer 85, by François Ozon, will arrive on television this Sunday. Premiere recommends it.

There are books that mark adolescence. The cuckoo dance of Aidan Chambers upset that of François Ozon. A 16-year-old boy committed a crime; he must appear before a judge. We are then delivered, in the first person, the thoughts, the remorse that tell his love story with a young man who saved him from a shipwreck. With Summer 85, Ozon delivers a fairly faithful adaptation of this initiatory novel. Transposed to the Normandy coast, it features Alexis, 16, a high school student fascinated by death and from the working class, opposite David, 18, an orphan of a father who has taken over the family business with his mother. For Alexis, David represents everything he is not: ease, absolute charm, speed… Their love story has the charm and seriousness of the first adolescent emotions. François Ozon thus takes up all the codes of teen movie – from a nod to The party- with the walkman on the ears – to the images of Epinal of the young couple living their love-story hair in the wind. There is a feeling of deja vu. We also have the feeling that the director does not really know how to extricate himself from his voiceover. Present in eclipses, it weighs down the film more than it elevates it. It would have been preferable to flesh out the dialogues of the boys, which sometimes sound a little hollow, and to enrich the relationships with the secondary characters like the mothers.

What is very well treated, on the other hand, is the atmosphere of the film. This feeling that something serious can happen at any time. François Ozon masters suspense like no other. Summer 85 is not without recalling In the House, a thriller where a student gets dangerously close to his teacher. The subject here – and it is also the case in Aidan Chambers’ book – is not homosexuality, even if certain dialogues suggest that the relationship is taboo. The real problem of the film is the strength of first love, possessiveness, and the exaltation of feelings. Félix Lefebvre (Alexis) and Benjamin Voisin (David) are magnetic, fiery and complex. We hope to see these young actors again very soon. Their nuanced interpretation gives a particular spice to their scenes of intimacy and makes them one of the most beautiful couples of the summer. Felix Lefebvre also delivers a memorable composition on Rod Stewart’s “Sailing” in one of the film’s key scenes.

Summer 85 – Benjamin Voisin: François Ozon is “dictatorship and listening”

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