Friday, July 08, 2011

10:30 P.M. SUMMER (1966)

A 60s alienation film, but strictly a second-rate copy of Antonioni by director Jules Dassin. The film opens with a handsome man (Julian Mateos) stalking through a rainstorm, arriving at a house where his wife has just had sex with another man. He shoots them both dead and goes on the run. Cut to four people who are taking a car trip through Spain: a middle-aged couple (Peter Finch and Melina Mercouri), their 7-year-old daughter, and a lovely young woman (Romy Schneider, pictured with Finch) whose exact relationship to the family is never clear; she's having an affair with Finch, she's friends with (and takes one mildly erotic shower with) Mercouri, and sometimes looks after the child. They happen to stop for the night in the village where the murder we saw has just occurred. The depressed, alcoholic and restless Mercouri hears about the whole affair and seems to feel some spiritual kinship with the outlaw. That night, after witnessing Finch and Schneider kissing passionately in the rain, Mercouri sees Mateos in hiding, on a rooftop rolled up in a tarp. She befriends him and helps him hide for the night in a field outside the village. Sadly, when she checks on him the next morning, he's dead. This is the catalyst for another restless day and night for Mercouri, leading to a frenzied flamenco dance scene followed by an ending, copied right out of Antonioni, which is ambiguous but the most satisfying part of the movie.

The screenplay is by New Wave-ish writer Marguerite Duras, based on her own short story, and the characters just haven't been given enough roundness. We learn practically nothing about their past, and their actions in the present seem mostly unmotivated. Leaving Mercouri's relationship with the killer husband hazy is fine, but leaving her role in the potential ménage-a-trois unclear is sloppy--some critics say that she imagines some of the love scenes between Finch and Schneider, but I didn't pick up on that. Mercouri's performance is almost over-the-top in a harsh and ugly way. Finch and the sexy Schneider are good, but poor Mateos (pictured at left) doesn't even get a single line of dialogue (that I can recall). The best thing about the film is the cinematography; the film always looks great, and as lovely as the landscape shots are, the night rain scenes are especially effective. [DVD]

No comments: