Cote goes for a more naturalistic style in this meandering and ultimately inconsequential attempt at humanising nymphomania, as three hypersexual women reside in a rest home guided by a therapist and her assistant.
Cast: Larissa Corriveau, Laure Giappiconi, Samir Guesmi
Plot: Three hypersexual women are invited to spend 26 days in a quiet rest home to enable a frank exploration of different experiences, forms, and extremes of desire. Under the detached supervision of a therapist and a considerate social worker, the group attempts to maintain a delicate balance.
Awards: Nom. for Golden Bear (Berlinale)
International Sales: Shellac
Subject Matter: Mature – Nymphomania & Hypersexuality
Narrative Style: Straightforward
Pace: Slightly Slow
Audience Type: Slightly Arthouse
Denis Cote is one of Canada’s most idiosyncratic directors—whether yay or meh, his films are still worth a pop because he often tries something different with every film, be it playing with style, structure, or storytelling. His latest, That Kind of Summer, is a kind of a bummer, a nay for me.
At more than two hours, a much longer runtime than his usual fare, That Kind of Summer is Cote’s meandering, sometimes meaningless, attempt at exploring the theme of nymphomania. The film follows three hypersexual women as they reside in a rest home for a month, guided by a German female therapist on temporary relief and a male Arab assistant.
Cote goes for a more naturalistic style, instead of his usual slick and precise mise-en-scene, and while that may fit the film’s more reflective tone, it doesn’t alleviate its languid pacing. The opening sequence, featuring one too many a tight close-up, may already be indicative of the kind of dullness that sets in more frequently than not.
“It’s when we are sad that we’re most alive, right?”
What’s left to hold on to are the decent performances by the trio—Aude Mathieu, Larissa Corriveau (whom I first saw in Cote’s Ghost Town Anthology (2019)) and Laure Giappiconi—who play characters that suffered from past trauma and are often behaviourally unpredictable.
Do expect nudity galore in this one, including scenes of masturbation and sadomasochism, that are depicted rather matter-of-factly, almost documentary-like. Some might accuse Cote of indulging too much in the eroticism and punishment of the female body, or the explicit descriptions of sexual and physical abuse, and if the film were any better, he might have found an excuse.
That Kind of Summer doesn’t offer anything meaningful about the subject matter and is ultimately inconsequential. Check out Lars von Trier’s controversial Nymphomaniac Vol. 1 & 2 (2013) instead if you want something more provocative and philosophical.