One Deadly Summer (Z Channel Presents)
DIRECTOR: JEAN BECKER
CAST: ISABELLE ADJANI, ALAIN SOUCHON, SUZANNE FLON
The population of a sleepy rural village in the south of France is galvanized (and turned on) by the arrival of mysterious, pouty new girl Isabelle Adjani, but as time passes it’s revealed that this sex kitten is playing a calculated role, and has something other than getting a tan in mind. The bucolic background becomes the unlikely setting for a cold-blooded revenge thriller, a movie that wades deeper and deeper into choppy psychological waters, anchored by Adjani’s masterful, multifaceted performance.
Original Z Channel Notes:
“Isabelle Adjani, barely out of her twenties, is one of the greatest actresses alive, and for years she’s also been one of the most frustrating to watch because, with the exception of Truffaut’s The Story of Adele H., she never had a role to equal her great gifts. One Deadly Summer changes all that; it’s one of the best films she’s ever done.
The place is a provincial French town in the mid-seventies. An overbearing young beauty (Adjani) with the manners of a cartoon vamp moves to town. She’s outrageously easy to seduce (if that’s the word); she swishes her hips at every passing man and makes bold eyes at all of the women. Everyone in town dismisses her as a tramp and worse except for the local garage mechanic (Alain Souchon). He sees and is enchanted by what everyone else is blind to: an almost supernatural rage, a lethal melancholy for which there’s no evident explanation.
There is an explanation—a very harrowing, concrete one. Her multiple seductions are all part of an intricate scheme to locate and seek vengeance against three men who committed a terrible rape nearly twenty years before. Rape and revenge are surely two of the dreariest staples of drama imaginable, but there’s a remarkable difference in this case. For one thing, the Adjani character was not the victim: It’s her mother who was raped. What Adjani is avenging is her own conception—she’s getting back at God the Father for forcing her to exist. This dizzily raises the psychic stakes, and steepens the plunge into tragedy as the heroine’s quest tilts her toward madness and threatens to drag the poor mechanic down with her. Adjani’s performance is seamless; a stunningly sustained, hairraising aria. Artistically, she’s in a class by herself—even Louise Brooks falls short by comparison. Her talent is comparable only to Marlon Brando’s, and One Deadly Summer is, in a sense, her Last Tango. May it be the first of many!”—F.X. Feeney