La belle saison (Summertime)

Catherine Corsini’s La belle saison delves into a topic that has rarely been done as successfully as it is here. We are in 1971 and Delphine (Izïa Higelin) helps her parents at the family farm. When asked by her father if she plans to marry some day, Delphine remains silent. Delphine loves women. She has a girlfriend. But soon the girlfriend announces that she wants to marry so that she can lead a ‘normal’ life. Delphine is heartbroken, and she decides to leave her country town and go to Paris to study. She meets and gets involved with a group of feminists. Among them is Carole (Cécile de France). Delphine is instantly infatuated with her. But Carole lives with a man and to fall in love with another woman was not in her plan. Delphine seduces her, and Carole falls in love (and in lust) with Delphine. Of course, her boyfriend is angry, but, just too bad, Carole is now in love with Delphine. And then Delphine gets the sad news that her father suffered a stroke, and she has to go back to the farm to help her mother, Monique (Noémie Lvovsky). Carole is crushed, but she soon joins Delphine on the farm and start helping too. Monique is still hoping that her daughter will marry a boy from the village and give her grandchildren. Monique enjoys Carole;s company. But with the two lovers rolling on the grass, making love, totally naked in the daytime, Monique is bound to find out. And when she does, what will she do? It is difficult for heterosexuals to understand that until recently, gays and lesbians had to live a closeted life. In La belle saison, you see Delphine’s fear of being discovered and her reluctance to break with tradition. La belle saison most effectively shows us how life was for LGBT people in 1971. Of course Higelin and de France are exceptional, but the film belongs to Noémie Lvovsky. At the beginning Lvovsky plays Monique as a very unassertive, unsmiling woman whose beliefs are about to be shaken. Quiet rivers run deep. The film’s first images (the director of photography is Jeanne Lapoirie) showed tree branches and their green leaves moving in the wind. The sun illuminating the faces, the fields and the bodies was one of the films great joys The natural, organic settings completely won me over like few films this year.

Rémi-Serge Gratton

La belle saison (Summertime)

Directed by:
Catherine Corsini

Screenplay by:
Catherine Corsini
Laurette Polmanss

Starring:
Cécile de France
Izïa Higelin
Noémie Lvovsky
Kevin Azaïs
Lætitia Dosch
Benjamin Bellecour

105 min.

In French with English subtitles.

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