Sunday, October 4, 2015

A young Dutch woman discovers her sexual identity in Colette Bothof's film, SUMMER

It's a hot one -- temperature-wise and otherwise -- in the new movie from The Netherlands titled SUMMER (Zomer in its original Dutch), in which a girl on the cusp of young womanhood, who is both attractive and smart yet never feels that she quite fits in, discovers what her sexual wants and needs really are. In gay men's movies, we call this "coming out." In lesbian women's films, the event often tends to be less raucous and dramatic, more inner and "felt."

In the hands of seasoned director Colette Bothof (shown at right), fledgling writer Marjolein Bierens and the fine cast assembled here, this ongoing "event," which I must admit we've seen many, many times previ-ous, takes on new interest and appeal, mostly by virtue of the movie's locations and setting. We're in a small and quite provincial country town in The Nether-lands, in which, as our narrator and heroine, Anne (Sigrid ten Napel, below), explains it, "nothing changes."

Well, dear: better get ready. This little community lies nearby a nuclear plant which provides it with electricity, a plethora of employment, and probably some not-so-healthy radiation. But the populace is behind the plant 100 per cent; they make short work of any environment-minded protesters who show up.

While Anne seems relatively content to be just "one of the boys," she also resists the romantic craving of one of them and then one day in her art class using a live model (above), something appears to click -- in all the boys, of course, but in Anne, as well.

At this same time, our girl encounters a newcomer to town, an exotic beauty (exotic especially to this white-bread village, in which one of the boys is nicknamed Negro by his compatriots who evidently have never seen one) played by Jade Olieberg, below, who immediately charms the pants off Anne, and the two begin a courtship dance that involves much back-and-forth, yes-and-no behavior from Anne.

For TrustMovies, the film's main interest derived from it concentration on the subsidiary characters, each of whom is well-drawn and well-acted: Anne's parents and siblings (one of whom is handicapped), her peers (both girls and boys), and especially the "tenor" of the little town and its environs, where "if a girl falls off a horse, she belong to the local farmhand."

This latter event is shocking and strange yet seems quite in keeping with the ideas of the local populace and even the Church. The film is clearly against the idea of organized and powerful  religion, yet it also allows us to see and object to an unpleasant bit of cat-calling against those who follow that religion.

The film's pièce de résistance may be its very interesting conflagration of the Virgin Mary, Nuclear Power and blinkered attitudes -- all presided over by a useless church.

As I mentioned earlier, films about women finding their way into a lesbian relationship tend not to be as testosterone-fueled as their male counterparts. Summer manages a confrontational scene that, for me, seemed somewhat short of believable -- needing either to go farther into confrontation, given that's it's already gone this far, or to draw back from confrontation earlier along so as not to give us the kind of "pussyfooting around" that defies credibility.

This is not a deal-breaker, however, because there's too much else good in the movie, from parent-child relationships to how citizens too often look the other way when things go bad, instead of stepping up to the plate and handling the problem while it's hot. In fact, what happens to the various friends and relatives here actually reduces the central love story to something less important in the grand scheme of things. Intended or not, this makes the movie richer and more interesting that many other lesbian and gay coming-of-age tales.

In any case, Summer is a film worth seeing ,and I am glad that Wolfe Video has stepped up to that plate, distributing the film via VOD, across all digital platforms including iTunes, Vimeo On Demand, and .

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