Comparisons are tricky things when it comes to the world of movies. A movie about vampires will inevitably be compared to Twilight or Dracula. A new gangster movie will always be the new Goodfellas. If you have a boy wizard, you best believe people will line you up against Harry Potter.
And marketing eats them up. After all, who wouldn’t want their movie to be compared to a previous masterpiece?
For Summer of 85, comparisons are inevitably going to be made to Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name. They are both, after all, a sun-soaked movie about falling in love, set in the eighties. However, Francois Ozon’s work here tries to race quickly away and makes for an unusual, if albeit, tender romantic drama.
Based on a book by Aidan Chambers called Dance on My Grave, Summer of 85 revolves around young boy Alexis. This high-school boy lives in a French seaside town. One day, he takes his friend’s boat out on the Ocean and almost drowns when it capsizes. Alexis is rescued by the mysterious and suave David, who immediately takes a shine to the blonde-haired boy. The pair begin a sensual love affair until David’s attentions are drawn to someone else…
Félix Lefebvre and Benjamin Voisin as Alexis and David respectively drive this passionate coming of age movie with heart and gusto. They are believable as this new couple scouring the beach and town for adventures, stealing away furtive kisses away from their parents, and soaking in the colour of youth-led parties.
That’s the one thing the movie has over Call Me By Your Name, this is a believable romance between two boys. Anyone who has fallen in love with a fellow student, as fast and as quickly as these two do, will see the truth in their performances.
The biggest draw is how they establish David, a free-spirited boy who cannot be possessed by one person. This contrasts against Alexis who is swept up in the idea of David. Ozon really focuses on how deep young love is, especially when you are discovering your homosexuality, and how you can pin all your romantic dreams on the person who helped you discovered that. The movie, in this regard, is brilliant.
The problem is that it might be the most tonally weird movie of the year. The film kicks off with a monologue from Alexis about the crime he has committed. Then it accelerates to places you couldn’t even fathom, twisting and turning at a rate that will leave you dizzy.
There is enough mettle, however, to keep you invested in Summer of 85. Especially in the joyous romance, powerful performances, and the somewhat strange becoming that Alexis goes through.