L’ÉTÉ DERNIER (LAST SUMMER)(France 2023) ****
Directed by Catherine Breillat


Badass films are always worth a look.  And they are usually praised by critics who are pleased to watch something different, fresh and controversial.  Director Cathrine Breillat is one badass female director who makes badass movies.  Breillat is a Paris-based filmmaker and writer who became famous for her distinctively personal films on sexuality, gender trouble and sibling rivalry.  Accused of being a "porno auteuriste", Breillat allowed for an unbiased view of sexuality and extended the language of mainstream movies.  She is also a best-selling novelist and wrote her first novel, L'Homme Facile, at the age of 17.  Breillat acted in Bernardo Bertolucci's Last Tango in Paris (1972) and wrote the screenplay for Maurice Pialat's movie Police (1985).

Her most notable films, all premiered at the Toronto International Film Festivals, which I adored include SEX IS COMEDY (2002),  A MA SOEUR! (2001) and ROMANCE (1999).  Her latest film L’ÉTÉ DERNIER (LAST SUMMER) also premiered at last year’s TIFF, is another film one cannot forget.  Breillat films, this one included, can never have the adjective ’pleasant’ to describe them, but their unpleasantness and unease make her films so memorable.  

In L’ÉTÉ DERNIER (LAST SUMMER),  a prominent lawyer’s passionate affair with her 17-year-old stepson threatens both her career and family.  Anne (a radiant, fierce Léa Drucker) is a prominent lawyer in her forties who lives with her loving yet overworked husband Pierre (Olivier Rabourdin) and their two young, adopted girls in a stunning, sun-soaked villa on the outskirts of Paris.   A woman of plenty with as much to lose, Anne soon falls under the spell of the tousled-haired Théo (Samuel Kircher, a revelation in his first role), her husband’s rebellious 17-year-old son from a previous marriage, when he comes to stay with them. Their steamy affair seems less premeditated than accidental as Anne coaxed out of her conjugal ennui, gradually gives into Théo’s advances, excited not only by his physical beauty but also by the thought of being lusted after by someone half her age.  

At the film’s start, lawyer Anne is seen counseling a minor who is scared and vulnerable.  She advises her to be strong as she will be accused of being a world-class slut though she is underage.  That is what the lawyer on the other side is trying to prove.  Anne eventually wins her case, but one can tell she will be up for a much bigger challenge as the film progresses.  She will have to deal with Theo. Initially, she has the upper hand of control, as Theo makes mistakes like robbing his home.   But Theo eventually proves too much for Anne.  Director Breillat proves once again she can deal with sexuality in a modern everyday context, balancing unease and complicity with raw emotions and desperation.  It is an immensely complicated film with a complicated subject but done with surprising ease and effortlessness.

There are price moments in Breillat’s film.  One has Anne and Pierre talking candidly while in the background is the topless Theo in the background.  Another is the conversation Anne has with Pierre after he expresses discovery at her buying his son a new computer.  “Should I ask permission to do his laundry and cook for him too?  She asks.

Though the film is a remake of the 2019 Danish film Queen of Hearts by May el-Toukhy, Breillat’s version has her imprint all over it.  Superb performances by all especially from Druker in the lead. 

L’ÉTÉ DERNIER (LAST SUMMER) opens only in theatres July 5th.


Comments powered by CComment

Récent - Latest Posts

More in Cinéma - Movies  


Sur Instagram