Review: ‘The Tenth Summer’

Well-mounted but sluggish German family pic adapts scenarist Dieter Bongartz's book about small-town life in the 1960 Lower Rhine region. Too much attention paid to boring adult concerns (debt, marital strife, women of ill repute) and not enough to the ones (a pet monkey) that would most interest younger viewers. Pic is viable item for TV sales.

Well-mounted but sluggish German family pic “The Tenth Summer” adapts scenarist Dieter Bongartz’s book about small-town life in the 1960 Lower Rhine region. There’s too much attention paid to boring adult concerns (debt, marital strife, ostracized women of ill repute) and not enough to the ones (notably a pet monkey) that would most interest younger viewers. Nonetheless, pic is viable item for TV sales.

Freed from another school year, 9-year-old Kalli (Martin Stuhrk) has plenty to occupy him during summer vacation. There’s his crush on wee neighbor Franzi (Michelle Barthel, a particularly cloying child actor); his plans to open a “zoo” of local specimens with two best friends; and most excitingly, an African monkey given the boys by its blase prior owner, which must be kept hidden from nosy grownups. But on the home front all is not well with Kalli’s hysterical mother and war-lamed, hapless-in-business dad. Trouble also arises when Kalli & pals are befriended by a next-door mother and her daughters — a dolled-up trio who are sweet as pie but scorned as harlots by local gossips. (Their precise profession is left ambiguous.) Nostalgic atmosphere helps leaven dawdling story.

The Tenth Summer

Germany

Production

A Zieglerfilm Kolm production in association with Ziegler Film. Produced by Imogen Nabel. Executive producer, Elke Ried. Co-executive producer, Regina Ziegler. Directed by Jorg Grunler. Screenplay, Dieter Bongartz, based on his novel.

Crew

Camera (color, DV), Daniel Koppelkamm; editor, Jorg Baumeister; music, Mick Baumeister; production designer, Bernd Lepel. Reviewed at Mill Valley Film Festival, Oct. 8, 2003. Running time: 98 MIN.

With

Katharina Blom, Kai Wiesinger, Martin Stuhrk, Erika Marozsan, Michelle Barthel, David Kotter, Pino Severino-Geysen.
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