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Summertime

Year: 2015
Production Co: Chaz Productions
Director: Catherine Corsini
Writer: Catherine Corsini/Laurette Polmanss
Cast: Izïa Higelin, Cécile de France

Part of my ongoing effort to watch all the lesbian drama I can, searching for the same heart-rending qualities I saw in the best of them – Room In Rome, Fucking Åmål or Below Her Mouth.

To some degree, they're all about a delictae dance. In a lot of cases the resolution you're waiting for is whether the heroines will abandon the strictures of genteel society and stay together, epecially because some of these are set in times and places and with characters for whom living as completely out gay women is unavailable or unthinkable, even because of their own innate prejudices, at times.

On one hand the temptation must be there for writers and directors to include a romantic happy ending where the heroines are strong enough to remain together, often discounting the horror or acceptance from friends and family around them. But in doing that there's a strong risk of it all devolving into a Mills & Boon novel – no matter how high quality the story until then has been.

On the other – in keeping with the social mores in the worlds of these stories – it's traditionally far less likely the relationship will succeed only because there have been so few historical eras or countries where female homosexuality has been accepted by society or family members.

In Delphine (Izïa Higelin) and Carole's (Cécile de France) case, the odds are agianst them in what seems to be the late 60s/early 70s. Delphine is a country girl who's grown up amid staunch country surroundings and conservative values and is still helping her simple, loving parents run the family farm.

She knows what she is and is having a relationship with a local girl in secret, but when her girlfriend breaks it off, telling Delphine she's getting married to a boy and that their thing wasn't serious, Delphine flees to Paris to get away from everything she knows.

She enrolls at school and comes across a group of firebrand womens' libbers. Even though she's not really that militant, Delphine loves their energy, humour, camaraderie and verve and she's especially drawn to Carole, the two spending more time together and eventually consummating their mutual desire.

Carole actually lives with a boyfriend, and while she sees Delphine and tries to sort her emotions for and relationship with her male lover out, Delphine gets a phone call that her Dad has suffered a deblilitating stroke back home. She has to leave Paris and go and tend the farm while (or if) he recovers.

Carole decides to throw her lot in to her growing love for Delphine, splitting with her boyfriend and accompanying Delphine back home to spend a few months helping out. But she discovers to her confusion and hurt that Delphine isn't out at home and they have to hide their relationship, something the more liberated Carole isn't used to.

While trying to keep things running on the farm Delphine is pressured on all sides – keeping her true nature and relationship with Carole secret because her old fashioned mother wouldn't understand it (and has been through enough), or coming clean to everyone and being proud and true to herself despite the consequences.

It starts to cause friction between Carole and Delphine and something has to either happen or give way. The denoument – a moment where the pair have to make one of those its-now-or-never decisions to run away together and have what they truly want – goes from thrilling to heartbreaking and back again, and to say any more would be to give too much away.

The film as a whole isn't as much about langour or sensuality as some like Room In Rome or Blue Is The Warmest Color have been. There's plenty of nudity (it's still a French film about two young women, after all), but it's more about the plot unravelling than imbuing it with the breathless sense of skin touching that a lot of these films manage to include.

But it's still a beautiful story you'd have to be a block of wood not to respond to whatever your orientation. As Ang Lee protested all those years ago about Brokeback Mountain and which most Western audiences never accepted it's not a gay story, it's a forbidden love story that happns to be about two gay people.

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