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Reckless Summer (Digital Movie Review)

REVIEW OVERVIEW

The Film

SUMMARY

A 15-year-old in the French Alps deals with her parents' divorce and discovers the power of her sexuality.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Reckless Summer is a 2021 coming of age drama, about 15-year-old Solange, who is living at a village in the French Alps. While struggling with her parents’ divorce, this summer she is also going through her sexual awakening.

PLOT

At the beginning of the film we see Solange having her period for the first time. Then we are transferred some years later, when the 15-year-old protagonist now is having her first romantic encounters with guys. Meanwhile, her parents have gotten a divorce. Her father left them for another woman and her mother is depressed. Solange is neglected and spends most of her time with Guillaume, the metalhead neighbor who used to be her babysitter. One day she meets sophisticated Arnaud at a party and falls for him. Through all these experiences, Solange will realize the power she has over men. At the same time she will have to face the unpleasant consequences…

Reckless Summer is a realistic coming of age drama, which highlights the importance of parental guidance in teenagers. It is alarming watching how alienated Solange is from her depressed mother, even though they live together. In fact, she mostly stays at Guillaume’s house. From the first scenes it becomes obvious that the young protagonist had a much closer bond with her father; he was the one who gave her advice about her future sexual encounters. Solange’s mother was always too lost mourning the failure of her marriage to cater to her daughter’s needs and pay attention to her.

The movie can be very disturbing and shocking, since it has some strong thematic material. Adolescents without parental guidance can be placed in vulnerable situations and they might end up in difficult situations that can affect them for the rest of their lives. In my opinion, it had a lot of potential and it was indeed realistic, still there are some problems. I felt that Solange’s character was underdeveloped. The viewer never really learns about her inner world and how her parents’ separation affected her. The focus is only on her relation with guys, which is her way of handling things as a teenager now. She never displays any dramatic emotional response or mental breakdown. This makes the plot feel flat and unrealistic.

  • Reckless Summer (2021)
  • Reckless Summer (2021)
  • Reckless Summer (2021)
  • Louisiane Gouverneur in Reckless Summer (2021)
  • Louisiane Gouverneur in Reckless Summer (2021)
  • Reckless Summer Poster (2021)

CHARACTERS

Solange is a fifteen year old girl, who wants to be accepted by her peers and starts experimenting with guys. Her parents’ separation is a delicate issue, as her father abandons them and her mother shuts down. She was ultimately left on her own trying to navigate her sexuality without any advice or guidance.
Solange’s mother, whose name is never mentioned, is too absorbed in her marital problems to show the affection and pay the attention Solange needs as she is coming of age. After her husband abandons them she becomes depressed, regretting her poor love decisions. Therefore, she fails to be there for her daughter, not only to supervise her, but to support her too.
Solange’s father, whose name is also not mentioned, works as a steward and does not spend enough time at their home. This is something that unnerves Solange’s mother. After these two get a divorce we never see him again. It is implied he is too busy with his new girlfriend to be present for his daughter. This is something that justifies Solange’s behavior throughout the film. She and her father had a close bond and she misses him.
Guillaume is their metalhead neighbor, who used to be Solange’s babysitter. The irony is that he is still her babysitter, since after the divorce the teenage girl spends all of her time at his house. He appears to be lost and kind of depressed without a real purpose in his life. In the second half of the film he behaves in an unexpected way.
Arnaud is Solange’s first “boyfriend”. He is affluent and has a lot of interesting opinions about political, social and philosophical issues. Solange looks up on him for being sophisticated and “making it out of there” during the summer. Unfortunately, he is self absorbed and does not care about her as a person. He is only using her to have his needs met.

ACTING

Louisiane Gouverneur was amazing at the role of Solange, whose character is experiencing her sexual awakening at the midst of her parents’ divorce. She did the best she could for a character that is not perfectly written. Additionally, she handled well the demanding and controversial sexual scenes. Vincent Deniard delivered a very convincing and decent performance as Guillaume, a very complicated character, while Aymeric Fougeron was very good as Solange’s love interest, Arnaud.

DIRECTION/ CINEMATOGRAPHY

Director and co-writer Rodolphe Tissot had the best intentions, but it seems to me that the pacing ruined the atmosphere. The first half of the film is slow, while so many events happen in the second half. During the last twenty-five-minutes everything happens so quickly that we cannot process them, and the worst part we are given an open-ended finale that feels unfinished. Penelope Pourriat’s cinematography was well made, though.

THE END

The ending felt abrupt and the viewer is left with many questions concerning the fate of the protagonist and the side characters. I was expecting more from the discussion between Solange and her mother. The film ended in a rushed and open ended way and this disappointed me.


Reckless Summer is out on VOD in the USA March 19, 2024 from Capelight Pictures


  • Rating Certificate: Not Rated
  • Studios & Distributors: Avenue B Productions | Arte France | Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée | Capelight Pictures
  • Director: Rodolphe Tissot
  • Written By: Rodolphe Tissot | Marianne Pujas | Marie Darrieussecq
  • Country: France
  • Language: French
  • Run Time: 109 Mins.
  • Release Date: March 19th 2024 (US VOD)
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A 15-year-old in the French Alps deals with her parents' divorce and discovers the power of her sexuality.Reckless Summer (Digital Movie Review)