La Belle Saison (2016)

La Belle Saison aka Summertime

Dave author picLike many a film fan, last year I set myself the goal of watching #52FilmsByWomen. While I fell just short of the target – one film shy, in fact – focusing on female filmmakers was an edifying experience. Of the movies I watched, I saw my fair share of masterpieces and mediocrities, but it soon became clear how overriding the male perspective is in the cinematic medium – and the subtle power of a different perspective.

That’s clarified in a film like La Belle Saison (clumsily translated as Summertime in most English-speaking countries), which lends life to a familiar premise by avoiding familiar footfalls. The premise reads like arthouse erotica: a French farmgirl moves to Paris, falls in love with another woman, has a lot of sex. But rather than play to male desires, Corsini embeds the story in feminist mores. Her lovers (Cécile De France and Izïa Higelin) meet in a woman’s group actively engaged in womens’ rights activism, and their relationship goes on to encompass questions of class and economics. Even the frequent nudity avoids feeling exploitative: little touches like the lighting, or the characters’ armpit hair, set it apart from the leering often found in this subgenre. Simple, but memorable.

3 stars

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