Rose Bosch’s Un été en Provence tells the story of teenagers Léa, Adrien and Théo, their little deaf brother. Their father has left the household, and their mother had to go in Montréal for work. They are sent to stay with their maternal grandparents on an olive farm in Provence. Mamie Irène (Anna Galiena) is welcoming and happy to see them. But grumpy Papi Paul (Jean Reno) has been estranged from the kids’ mother, and has never met his grandkids. Both Léa and Adrien are not happy to be without their friends and to find themselves in this boring country. In town, Léa meets a new beau, and Paul disapprove of course. Adrien has is eyes set on the owner of the ice cream parlor, who is an older woman. The teens think their grandparents are stuck up, until they find out that, when young, they were bikers/hippies, and are visited by their biker friends. They all sit around a camp fire, reminisce and sing some old Woodstock songs. The film is a series of clichés: about teens, about grandparents, about hippies and bikers, about Provence. There is nothing new. We’ve seen that movie so many times before. The only reason why some audience will accept and love such an ordinary, conventional film, and with a mediocre screenplay, is because it is French. You make the same film, with the same characters, and the same screenplay, but set in small town USA, with an American actor, oh let’s say Harrison Ford playing the grandfather, and the those people turn their noses up at it. And then there are the English songs. From the start we hear a series of English songs, beginning with Simon & Garfunkel’s The sound of silence (Do the producers think it will have the same effect it had in The graduate?) And an English song follows another one. Are there no French singers left in France? One of the bikers is played by French singer Hugues Aufray. Aufray became popular in France when he sang French versions of Bob Dylan’s best known songs, which he himself translated. But in Un été en Provence he sings them in English with a thick French accent. And it becomes worse when Paul and Irène join in, along with the rest of the biker gang, all with their French accent. They sound like a pack dogs barking at the moon. Ridiculous! We are in France, the characters seems to be speaking French, (sprinkled with lots of English words. Scotched is used twice in the film.) but there is no French culture. The film Easy rider is mentioned, we see a poster of Pretty woman, and Léa is a fan of the late Amy Winehouse. I found the whole film simply annoying from beginning to end. Avoid. Unless you are an avid fan of French films.
Un été en Provence (A summer in Provence)
In French with English subtitles