A Burning Hot Summer

A Burning Hot Summer ★★★★★

A movie I adore; Contempt is the obvious comparison, made even by Garrel, but its equal parts Voyage in Italy and Don't Touch The Axe. This is also Garrel at his most painterly; often addressed regarding this film are the blocks of primary colours which pervade the interiors of the entire movie. Garrel's often cited Murnau inspiration is on display as well, not necessarily in the entire composition (frames are set-up quite plainly), but in the movements and positions of actors, everyone posing as Greek statues, like the so-called "uninspiring dead beauty" which Louis Garrel laments.

The quote itself is "All that dead beauty is so uninspiring," and like Voyage in Italy, it's that natural beauty which forces characters to re-evaluate themselves and address things which they would never have thought of before....something very rare in the perennial bourgeois world of this film where the only political engagement is, "Damn that Sarkozy!"

So, when Bellucci finally admits her deteriorating relationship with Garrel and her desire to see other men to Celine, they are framed in a very wide shot, surrounded by god-knows how old monuments in Rome. It's then we realize that the gender politics they are fighting aren't necessarily the gender politics of the 2000's, but the gender politics which have existed for centuries and which have refused to die.

Garrel's (Louis) death is important. We see him die in the opening moments of the film and see the rest of the film learning why. An inattentive viewer would conclude that it is because of the overwhelming power of heartbreak. This is only part true. After Bellucci leaves him, he refused to acknowledge her point: the infamous death knell of patriarchal systems: that in love and sex and everything else, women have have the same rights as men. When he dreams of Bellucci as he drives his car into a tree, she's nude, reclining, beckoning him to come over. Here too, he is not dreaming of a woman, or even a person. He desires the image of a woman, which can be manipulated to suit his own needs. So his death and despair, stems not from her leaving him as much as his refusal to accept that a woman can be more than just a role in a system.

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