"Sommer '04 an der Schlei" is pretty much a vehicle to showcase a lot more of German actress Martina Gedeck than you'd normally see. It has at least three close-up sex scenes which are pretty much the only reason why most people want to watch it in the first place.
However, if you get past that aspect of it (and it's really hard to since Martina Gedeck is gorgeous for an over 40 year old woman), the movie is a lot like the French "slice of life" genre (if there is such a thing) mixed with a bit of Mike Leigh. It's a drama without a real beginning or end but with a lot of characterisation and interplay between the characters.
If you watch the trailer for "Summer 'O4", you'd be forgiven for thinking this was some kind of story about paedophilia. Although there is more than a suspicion of that in the plot, it's a lot more about love and relationships breaking down. If you are expecting another "Lolita" this isn't it at all.
I really don't know how I feel about this movie. On the one hand, I really liked Martina Gedeck and thought that Robert Seeliger was excellent in his role too but, on the other, I didn't like Svea Lohde (who played Livia) or Lucas Kotaranin (her 15 year old boyfriend Nils). The teenagers really were just ciphers to the main story of Miriam and Bill's more than telegraphed affair and they didn't really act so much as just exist in the film to create a few red herrings.
"Summer '04" is just one of those films that is really well done but leaves you with more questions than answers probably due to the script and incongruous ending. In words of less syllables, it just makes you wonder, "What the hell did I just watch? And why?"
It's all shot beautifully though and makes you think that it really is Summer on the River Schlei (to quote the German title). The features on the DVD reveal that the title was originally "Sommer '01" and it was filmed during bad weather in 2006 but I don't think the date has any significance whatsoever.
It's a strange film, easy to follow but ultimately pointless. I'd give it 4 out of 10 since it intrigued me a lot more than it eventually delivered. Plus I could watch Martina Gedeck all day.