L'Été meurtrier (One Deadly Summer) - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

L'Été meurtrier (One Deadly Summer) Reviews

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July 3, 2016
"One Deadly Summer" was one of France's biggest films in 1983. It was nominated for nine French Oscars and won four of them, was the second highest grossing movie of the year in that country, and continued Isabelle Adjani's reign as the premier actress of the 1980s. A deadly concoction of erotic thriller tropes, vengeance movie delecatations, and Sirkian melodrama, it has the makings of a fervent arthouse masterwork. But its initially tightly wound, lurid promise slowly disintegrates to reveal a bumbling mess distinctly unsure of what direction it wants to move in.
In "One Deadly Summer," Adjani plays Elle, a new-to-town floozy so wet dreamy in her appearance and attitude that she immediately enraptures the attention of the male population in her new place of living. But while most assume that she's nothing more than a walking exhibitionist looking for a cheap thrill, Elle is anything but: in actuality, she's a revenge seeking dame hungry to avenge the decades old gang rape of her mother. Believing that the descendants of the perpetrators are living in the area, she hopes to right the wrongs done to her family, by specifically seducing (and, thus destroying) Fiorimonto (Alain Souchon), the son of one of the men she believes to be responsible for the dusty crime.
But when it is discovered that payback was definitively taken care of years earlier, with the family she's presenting preying upon verily innocent in the matter, Elle begins to lose grip of what's left of her stability, ultimately ensuring that damage, based in bloody reprisal or not, makes its way onto the scene.
Adjani is as brilliant as she is sometimes cloyingly coy -- she treads a fine line between overacting and deftly calculated embodiment. Per usual, there's no one better at pretending to lose their mind on the silver screen than she is. But Elle, trashily sexual and never quite coherent enough to be sympathetic, is a character too incomprehensibly written for Adjani to flawlessly portray.
And with its swamp of characters, saddled with Jean Becker's (who co-writes and directs) fatal decision to switch the film's perspective through varying voiceover, "One Deadly Summer" goes from stinging to muddled stunningly fast; rather than be supplemented by the insight it so ardently tries to fulfill, it's more discombobulating than effectual. He's incapable of setting a surefire tone, and his beating around the bush is noxious to the potent effect the film is looking for.
Sometimes it's a sex farce, sometimes it's a rape and revenge stereotype, and sometimes it's a good old-fashioned femme fatale oriented noir. But the flurry of styles is so scattershot that the film oftentimes feels as though it's still in the stages of planning, as if Becker expected Adjani's versatility to distract us from noticing his indecisiveness. Frequently, that is a reality. Most of the time, though, it's not, and the film swims about looking for a cinematic life raft when there's none for miles.
Thirty-three years later, in comparison to "One Deadly Summer," I find myself reminded of 2015's "Joy," a Jennifer Lawrence starrer that, despite its mixed reception, netted the actress a Best Actress nomination. Currently, Lawrence is a cultural phenomenon so beloved that one can expect Oscar adoration no matter the characterization. Three decades from now, no one is going to be talking about "Joy." And there's a sense that "One Deadly Summer" was the same way back in 1983: not a masterpiece, but acclaimed nevertheless because of Adjani's dominance over the French film industry at the time. Now that she's a legend rather than a fresh-faced star, one can see "One Deadly Summer" for what is actually is -- a misfired tale of obsession. It's sometimes interesting. But mostly, it isn't, even when Adjani is.
½ October 19, 2012
This was a surprise of a film. The first half of the movie seemed, well to put it frankly, dull - except for the vision which went by the name of Isabelle Adjani. Otherwise I had problems watching the movie, because nothing seemed to be happening for the first half. Then about halfway to the movie it got more interesting. Adjani's character suddenly turned from a strange bimbo into a real person, the depth of her character just materialized right there with her face. Great acting. The rest of the cast was doing just fine as well, all the characters seemed like people, not like cardboard personalities as in many modern Hollywood movies.
I had forgotten to turn off the hollywood-mode, but despite it I have to mention that the movie was indeed slow-moving, slow-paced. The storytelling seemed for a while to just stay in one place, which really taxes the movie quite a lot.
I found Adjani's face to be more beautiful than any other scene. Like someone pulled the curtains and the sun shone in, she personified some kind of ethereal beauty. Like the scene where she walks over the sand road in a pure white dress, one sees the summer with apple trees or something in the background, hearing the sand make a sound under her heels, her skin is tanned brown after lying in the sunshine on the grass in the french countryside against the white dress, and she looks inside the car window at her future husband asking 'am I ok?'
She also has a talent for acting sudden mood swings. My other favorite scene is where she's turned into a nine years old at the end of the movie in the mental institution. I think that great acting.
Well, a real movie. Its french. If you like Isabelle Adjani and french movies, you won't do badly by watching this. It's not for kids though. Anyway, hard to describe this film.. it all revolves around Elle and Pin Pon. The end is very surprising too. I can't really give an advice on how to watch this.. Its not particularly fast exciting or easy to absorb movie either, you have to be in a certain mood to get most out of it, perhaps some sort of withdrawal from hollywood-rubbish would have been helpful before watching this film. Well, its not what you think.. See the purity of illusion.
March 1, 2012
A warm mysterious summer!
½ October 16, 2011
Je ne suis pas folle vous savez !
July 6, 2011
Excellent psychological thriller.Recommended for (another) terrific performance by Isabelle Adjani. I'm a true fan of her now!!:)
March 3, 2011
Isabelle Adjani best movie! Brilliant!
Super Reviewer
½ October 7, 2010
An interesting character study that benefits from a strong performance by Adjani as a beautiful young woman bent on revenge. Even so, the story is not only greater due to a predictable ending that you can see coming halfway through the film.
September 30, 2010
One of Adjani's best performances.
½ July 23, 2010
Een film waar pas op het einde duidelijk wordt of het nu wel of niet om te lachen was, daar houden we wel van... Een beetje ver gezocht, soms, ma: si non è vero, è ben trovato!
September 28, 2009
One of my favorite thrillers of all time.
August 18, 2009
This movie has a lot going for it: it's playfully French, with nice village scenes, cycling, family wedding, brothers fooling around, provincial entertainment, etc. Furthermore, the story is interesting enough, and the denouement (containing a fatal misunderstanding) makes it all the more tragic. Another important key element in this film (for those interested) is Adjani's dazzling beauty combined with her apparel. It is so "in your face" it just cannot be ignored. The problem I have with "L'été meurtrier", however, is its length. I would have preferred the director to cut to the chase. After one entire hour, it appears there is more to Adjani than just her boobs. The second half of the movie is very different from the first half, with Adjani's character acting much more maturely, with a mission. Final note: I did like the use of the different voiceovers. They add to the overall mood in a way that really works.
August 18, 2009
This movie has a lot going for it: it's playfully French, with nice village scenes, cycling, family wedding, brothers fooling around, provincial entertainment, etc. Furthermore, the story is interesting enough, and the denouement (containing a fatal misunderstanding) makes it all the more tragic. Another important key element in this film (for those interested) is Adjani's dazzling beauty combined with her apparel. It is so "in your face" it just cannot be ignored. The problem I have with "L'été meurtrier", however, is its length. I would have preferred the director to cut to the chase. After one entire hour, it appears there is more to Adjani than just her boobs. The second half of the movie is very different from the first half, with Adjani's character acting much more maturely, with a mission. Final note: I did like the use of the different voiceovers. They add to the overall mood in a way that really works.
½ August 18, 2009
full of surprising twists and turns, quite shocking "femme fatale" story that uncovers some horrible secrets to the backdrop of a quiet little french village. adjani was quite the sensation back then
Super Reviewer
January 4, 2009
A fairly decent adaptation of a good psychological thriller by Sébastien Japrisot, scripted by the author himself. The trouble with it is, the book's greatest strengths - the richly detailed provincial French setting and the vivid characterisation, resulting from a multiple first-person narrative - prove difficult to translate to the screen, at least within the constraints of a sensible running time. The movie, therefore, somehow manages to feel simultaneously watered-down and overlong. Japrisot attempts to preserve his first-person narrative in voiceover form, but he overuses this device considerably; I've nothing against voiceovers per se, but cinema should primarily be about visual storytelling, and any movie this reliant on narration must be doing something wrong!

Switching from coquettish sexiness to childlike vulnerability in the blink of an eye, Isabelle Adjani is marvellous in the lead role, but try to imagine the film without her and it begins to look very ordinary indeed. The rest of the cast are fine, though strictly two-dimensional. Jean Becker's direction is adequate but completely lacking in tension; a first-rate director - say, Claude Chabrol in his prime - would have made more of the psychosexual strangeness of the tale, and would have better disguised the fact that the nicely ironic ending hinges on a pretty indigestible coincidence. My advice: read the book; if you like it, watch this for Adjani.
½ August 23, 2008
I didn't really know what to expect from this one at first. With the typical French internal monologue narration thing going on throughout the whole film from several different characters, it starts rolling like most french sexual obsession films. A guy named Pin-Pon becomes fixated on the new hot thing in the town Elle; she oozes sexuality and it's all directed towards Pin-Pon, who's dissaproving mother and deaf aunt watch from the sidelines as the two of them quickly become engaged and married. It soon becomes apparent however that Elle has secrets and is motivated by a dark past. She's out for revenge for the rape of her mother, and she's cooked up a very complex plan to exact it. Now at this point it seems to be a fairly clear cut rape/revenge story like Lady Snowblood, but I'll just say that as this tale comes to a close there are a few twists that caught me by surprise and earned the film a few bonus points.

Isabelle Adjani is nothing short of one of the most beautiful and talented actresses in the world and her performance as Elle in this is absolutely perfect. She's sweet, maniacal, tragic and seductive all at the same time.

Unfortunately, this is a very hard film to find, but if you ever have a chance to see it I recommend that you do so. I loved it even with my crappy 700 MB rip with gray background subtitles.
½ March 9, 2008
Bon film de Becker, Adjani est admirable en mutine et souchon joue là l'un de ses premiers rôle au cinéma. L'histoire préfigure 37°2 le matin de Beinex. A voir
March 3, 2008
I re-watched this movie recently and I couldn't remember how good it was. Very good acting (not only Adjadi -who is tremendous [and so gorgeous]- but Suzanne Flon too), nice story. To be seen!
February 29, 2008
One of the greatest films I have ever seen, but sadly unavailable in English in North America. A tragic story told Rashomon-style about vengeance and fate. Adjani is incredible in this role, displaying a range that few actresses could deliver. Someone, please release this film on DVD!
January 19, 2008
One of the movies that caused a definite impact in my appreciation of movie art.
December 1, 2007
One of the best French movie ever done
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