Summer of 85 – Film Review
Director: François Ozon
Writers: Aidan Chambers (novel), François Ozon (adaptation)
Stars: Félix Lefebvre, Benjamin Voisin, Philippine Velge
This film is based on a 1982 young adult novel by British author Aidan Chambersthe called “Dance on My Grave”. The book was quite a controversial work in its time due to the story revolving around a love affair between two young men. Director François Ozon is known for films such as Swimming Pool (2003), Frantz (2016) and 8 Women (2002) and is one of the best known modern french directors.
The film tells the story of Alexis Robin (Félix Lefebvre), a 16-year-old boy growing up in a seaside resort in Normandy. He takes the loan of a boat from one of his friends and sails far out to sea. As a storm approaches, he manages to capsize the boat and is left stranded. He is saved by another young man, the 18-year-old David Gorman (Benjamin Voisin). The two quickly become friends and eventually lovers.
The film is a rich and dreamy evocation of 1985, complete with dodgy hair, clothes and music. It could easily be a contemporary film you’ve stumbled upon several decades too late. The two young actors carry the full plot and they do well in their respective roles, with Lefebvre particularly catching the eye. The story is relatively straight forward with the odd hint of melodrama. The prominent part of a certain Rod Stewart song is also hard to ignore! This is certainly not Ozon’s finest work and may disappoint those expecting too much for it. Other than a few minor twists, the story follows many of the standard structures of Young Adult novels. Despite the minor failings of the plot, you’ll find yourself easily captured by this tale of young love.