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75th Venice Film Festival: Les Estivants (The Summer House) Movie Review

75th Venice Film Festival Les Estivants (The Summer House)

A still from director Valeria Bruni Tedeschi’s drama, ‘Les Estivants (The Summer House).’

Title: Les Estivants (The Summer House)

Director: Valeria Bruni Tedeschi 

Cast: Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Pierre Arditi, Valeria Golino, Noémie Lvovsky, Yolande Moreau, Laurent Stocker de la Comédie Française, Riccardo Scamarcio, Bruno Raffaelli de la Comédie Française, Marisa Borini, Oumy Bruni Garrel, Vincent Perez, Stefano Cassetti, Xavier Beauvois.

Valeria Bruni Tedeschi keeps making the same film, as attested by her latest ‘Les Estivants (The Summer House)’ — presented at the 75th Venice Film Festival, Out of Competition.

Once again she explores, almost in a therapeutic way, her family history — the death of her brother, the discordant relationship with her family members, her devastating love affairs. We’ve all seen it before, in her previous work ‘A Castle in Italy’. Also the setting has a familiar vibe, since the film unfolds in a large and beautiful property on the French Riviera, a place that is sheltered from the rest of the world. 

The Italian actress-director is repetitive also in her choice of character, playing the ditzy who is emotionally unstable. And yet she explains that what influenced her in the making of ‘Les Estivants’ was her love for theatre: “From the very beginning, there were two plays that inspired me: Goldoni’s ‘Holiday Trilogy,”’and Gorki’s ‘Summerfolk.’ But in general, it’s Chekhov and his vision of the world that have helped me to work. His plays and short stories make me laugh, move and comfort me; they work like a magnifying glass that helps me to take a better look at life. Chekhov and Chéreau are at the foundations of my work. I always come back to them. Like a beating heart. The body changes, but the heart that keeps on beating is the same.

Indeed, Bruni Tedeschi tries to make some scenes Chaplinesque — in terms of reflecting on the body the turmoil of the characters — but it does not suffice to save a weak script, even though she handles the camera suavely.

Technical: C+

Acting: C-

Story: C-

Overall: C

Written by: Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

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director Valeria Bruni Tedeschi's drama, 'Les Estivants (The Summer House)'
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Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi, is a film critic, culture and foreign affairs reporter, screenwriter, film-maker and visual artist. She studied in a British school in Milan, graduated in Political Sciences, got her Masters in screenwriting and film production and studied at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York and Los Angeles. Chiara’s “Material Puns” use wordplay to weld the title of the painting with the materials placed on canvas, through an ironic reinterpretation of Pop-Art, Dadaism and Ready Made. She exhibited her artwork in Milan, Rome, Venice, London, Oxford, Paris and Manhattan. Chiara works as a reporter for online, print, radio and television and also as a film festival PR/publicist. As a bi-lingual journalist (English and Italian), who is also fluent in French and Spanish, she is a member of the Foreign Press Association in New York, the Women Film Critics Circle in New York, the Italian Association of Journalists in Milan and the Federation of Film Critics of Europe and the Mediterranean. Chiara is also a Professor of Phenomenology of Contemporary Arts at IED University in Milan.

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