Sebastien Japrisot’s best-selling suspense novel, One Deadly Summer, has finally made it to the screen in an adaptation by the author, and Jean Becker (son of the late Jacques Becker) has directed this psychological drama about a dangerously neurotic girl’s obsession with a family shame. Often questionable in matters of credibility and and wobbly in its dramatic conception, pic is nonetheless fairly engrossing, thanks to Isabelle Adjani, astonishing in the central role.
Story is set in a small southern French town where Adjani, recently arrived with her timid German mother and invalid father (Maria Machado, Michel Galabru), quickly earns the reputation of a local tinsel sexpot, empty-headed, volatile and unnattainable.
Traumatized by her knowledge that her mother was raped by three Italian immigrants before she was born, Adjani thinks she’s on a trail of vengeance when she’s courted by a young garage mechanic (Alain Souchon), whose father, now dead, was an Italian immigrant who owned a mechanical piano, the only clue to the identity of her mother’s aggressors.
Japrisot retains in his screenplay the multiple narrative idea: the action is related alternately from the viewpoints of several characters including Adjani, Souchon and Suzanne Flon, as the humane, partly deaf aunt. In the film this shifting is translated by alternating voiceover commentaries. It becomes something of an obstacle, because Becker fails to differentiate the narratives visually.