×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

An Unforgettable Summer

"An Unforgettable Summer" is a touching, disturbing account of a Romanian army officer who's caught in an untenable position by his wife's tender regard for wrongly condemned Bulgarian peasants. Pic's topical messages about the pitfalls of rigid ethnic identification and the idiocy of blind retaliation make it a good bet for fests and discerning arthouse audiences.

With:
Marie-Therese Von Debretsy - Kristin Scott-Thomas
Capt. Petre Dumitriu - Claudiu Bleont
Mme. Vorvoreanu - Olga Tudorache
Gen. Tchilibia - George Constantin
Serban Lascari - Ion Pavlescu
Gen. Ipsilanti - Marcel Iures
Lt. Turtureanu - Razvan Vasilescu

“An Unforgettable Summer” is a touching, disturbing account of a Romanian army officer who’s caught in an untenable position by his wife’s tender regard for wrongly condemned Bulgarian peasants. Pic’s topical messages about the pitfalls of rigid ethnic identification and the idiocy of blind retaliation make it a good bet for fests and discerning arthouse audiences.

Bracketed by voiceover narration, pic starts with a sequence that is a mad gallop, with the camera in the saddle, giving viewers a crash course in regional rivalries circa 1925. After this segment, though, the film favors a more stately lensing and editing style, which is a departure from director Lucian Pintilie’s rambunctious razzle-dazzle in 1992’s “The Oak.”

After happily married Marie-Therese Von Debretsy (Kristin Scott-Thomas) snubs Gen. Ipsi lanti’s (Marcel Iures) advances at a city gala, her husband, Capt. Petre Dumitriu (Claudiu Bleont), is reassigned to a God-forsaken frontier post on the Danube, where they set up housekeeping with their three young children.

When Romanian soldiers are ambushed and slaughtered by roving Macedonian bandits, Dumitriu is ordered to retaliate by executing the group of harmless Bulgarian locals that tend his family’s vegetable garden.

Pic dissects what happens when one man’s allegiance to family and career point in two different directions.

Marie-Therese, sensitive-yet-flamboyant in the mold of Zelda Fitzgerald, copes with the moral quandary by acting as if the inevitable can be averted. The actress gives a properly flighty dimension to the loving wife and mom whoseflair for putting a joyous spin on things is forever impaired by the looming atrocity she feels powerless to halt.

Bleont conveys the problems of weighing duty and honor. Razvan Vasilescu, whose frenzied perf in “The Oak” was a standout, is memorable as an opportunistic soldier who has no compunctions about anything the military life may require.

Via dark humor and flashes of cruelty, pic pins down the inexorable lunacy of the military and the damned-if-you-do/damned-if-you-don’t turn that personal history can take as a subset of political history.

Period details are a convincing blend of rustic and elegant, and Paul Bortnovschi’s production design is a study in contrasts, as if to mirror fair and unfair, mad and sane. Anton Suteu’s opening music is a sly mix of Mozart and the can-can.

The frantic crescendo of the final sequence has an eerie resonance, as the narrator’s final remarks reframe all that has gone before in a different, deeply ironic light.

An Unforgettable Summer

French-Romanian

Production: An MKL release (France) of an MK2 Prods., La Sept Cinema (France)/Le Studio de Creation Cinematographique du Ministere de la Culture de Roumanie (Romania) production, with participation of Canal Plus, CNC and Filmex (Romania). (Intl. sales: MK2, Paris.) Produced by Marin Karmitz, Constantin Popescu. Directed, written by Lucian Pintilie, from Petru Dumitriu's novella "The Salad."

Crew: Camera (color), Calin Ghibu; editor, Victorita Nae; music, Anton Suteu; production design, Paul Bortnovschi, Calin Papura; costume design, Miruna Boruzescu; sound, Andrei Papp; assistant director, Sanda Iorgulescu. Reviewed at Club 13 screening room, Paris, April 22, 1994. In Cannes Film Festival (competing). Running time: 82 min.

With: Marie-Therese Von Debretsy - Kristin Scott-Thomas
Capt. Petre Dumitriu - Claudiu Bleont
Mme. Vorvoreanu - Olga Tudorache
Gen. Tchilibia - George Constantin
Serban Lascari - Ion Pavlescu
Gen. Ipsilanti - Marcel Iures
Lt. Turtureanu - Razvan Vasilescu
With: Cornel Scripcaru, Tamara Cretulescu, Mihai Constantin.
(Romanian, French and English dialogue)

More Film

  • Donald Trump Chucky Childs Play

    'Child's Play' Stars on New Chucky's 'Creepy' Resemblance to Donald Trump

    At Wednesday night’s world premiere of the “Child’s Play” remake, it was obvious that evil doll Chucky — the star of seven films over three decades — had a little work done. And now he bears a striking resemblance to Donald Trump’s Mini-Me. “Oh, you caught that?” Aubrey Plaza told Variety on the black carpet [...]

  • Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Opening

    Academy Museum Opening Delayed Again to 2020

    The opening date of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures has been delayed again, this time to an unspecified date in 2020. The museum, now under construction at the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue, has long been beset by delays and cost overruns. In December 2018, the Academy announced that it would open [...]

  • Bradley Cooper speaks at the 30th

    Producers Guild Shifts 2020 Awards Show to Hollywood Palladium

    The Producers Guild of America will hold its 31st Annual Producers Guild Awards at the Hollywood Palladium, shifting the site from the Beverly Hilton Hotel. The PGA had already announced that the show would take place on Jan. 18. The organization, which represents more than 8,000 producers, announced Thursday that it has launched a new [...]

  • Adam Driver appears in The Report

    Amazon’s ‘The Report’ Gets U.K. Theatrical Release Ahead of Streaming Launch

    Amazon Studio’s “The Report” will be released theatrically in the U.K. three weeks before it lands on the Prime Video streaming service. The Scott Z. Burns film tells the story of Daniel J. Jones, a U.S. Senate staffer who worked to reveal that truth about an “enhanced interrogation” program run by the CIA in the [...]

  • Elton John performing at Earls Court,

    Elton John Has a Message for Struggling LGBTQ Youth: 'Be Proud of Who You Are'

    Elton John isn’t at a loss for words when asked if he has a message for young LGBTQ people who are struggling with their sexuality or gender identity. In an exclusive interview with Variety at last month’s Cannes Film Festival, just hours before the world premiere of his long-in-the-works biopic “Rocketman,” John spoke candidly about the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content