A slim and largely sunny coming-of-ager, “Davide’s Summer” makes more of an impression than its content deserves, thanks to seamless, beautifully appointed direction by Carlo Mazzacurati (“The Bull,” “Vesna Goes Fast”) and engaging playing by its two leads. Though technically a TV movie, the 35mm pic has a thoroughly bigscreen look, but is more likely to play in offshore living rooms due to the slender subject matter.
Lensed in typically easy-on-the-eye style by Mazzacurati’s regular d.p., Alessandro Pesci, and full of the observational grace notes that fill the helmer’s work, “Summer” focuses on 19-year-old Davide (newcomer Stefano Campi), who leaves Turin after passing his pre-university exams to spend the summer with his uncle and aunt at a farm in the Po Valley.
Davide’s hangdog, quiet charm immediately attracts the attention of the neighboring Patrizia (Patrizia Piccinini), who drives him to hospital when he injures his shoulder. There, he falls in with the laddish Alem (Semsudin Mujic), a Bosnian refugee who works as a bartender in town.
Out of hospital, Davide finally gets it on with Patrizia, following a charming seduction by the latter on a day out in the countryside. He soon discovers, however, that she’s far from the innocent of his dreams, and is in for an even greater shock when he accompanies Alem on what seems like a simple drug deal.
The combination of the birdlike, quizzical Campi and forthright, sexy Piccinini makes for some lightly entertaining opening reels, with the movie gaining a disquieting edge as Davide spies her at night, alone in her room and later climbing into a businessman’s car for some roadside fun and games. Mazzacurati, however, seems unwilling to push the material further into dark recesses, and it’s left to the tacked-on third act, focusing on Alem, to provide the teenager’s emotional watershed — somewhat forced in the circumstances.
Still, as an undemanding diversion, the pic does its job with precision and economy. There’s a lovely sense of flow to the story and imagery, and though much of the movie is simply walkin’ and talkin’, its character observation and gentle humor are never at fault.