Summer of 85 (2020)

Breezy, fun but also dark, Ozon’s non-linear gay romance doesn’t really cut deep, but mostly works because it knows how to have a good time. 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Review #2,044

Dir. Francois Ozon
2020 | France | Drama/Romance | 100 mins | 1.85:1 | French & English
R21 (passed clean) for homosexual theme

Cast: Felix Lefebvre, Benjamin Voisin, Philippine Velge
Plot: While boating, Alexis’s boat capsizes and almost drowns before being rescued by David, who ultimately ends up as the friend of his dreams.
Awards: Official Selection (Cannes)
International Sales: Playtime

Accessibility Index
Subject Matter: Moderate – LGBT, Coming-of-Age
Narrative Style: Slightly Complex
Pace: Normal
Audience Type: Slightly Mainstream

Viewed: Screener
Spoilers: No

Summer of 85 sees the prolific French director Francois Ozon following up on his serious and solemn By the Grace of God (2019) with a fun and breezy outing. 

It is labelled as a Cannes 2020 official selection, but due to the pandemic, we won’t know for sure which category it would have competed in, though I suspect it might not have been in the main competition. 

Summer of 85 is more in the territory of Ozon-lite, though it does go into some dark places (there’s a lot of discussion on death).  As an LGBT movie, it is surely one of the most accessible and flat-out enjoyable ones of the year, centering on a young man, Alexis, who falls in love with another dude, David, after the latter saves him from a capsized boat. 

The gay romance is told non-linearly (well, it wouldn’t be an Ozon picture if everything is straightforward), thus creating a level of intrigue as to how the unfolding narrative—past and present—might have led to Alexis’ current circumstance. 

Summer of 85 may be told from Alexis’ point-of-view, but what makes the film tick is the chemistry between the two main actors.  Well, it’s great to fall in love, and the movie knows how to have a good time capturing their blossoming relationship, culminating in what could be one of the best uses of a classic song this year in Rod Stewart’s ‘Sailing’. 

Summer of 85 doesn’t really cut deep like, say, how Call Me by Your Name (2017) so marvelously did, but you’ll probably love the characters—and the radiant, carefree summer—just as much. 

Grade: B+



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