Charming but slight, “Summer Love” is what its title promises — a beautifully shot coming-of-ager centered on a 12-year-old girl in provincial southeast Turkey. Well played by a large cast of veteran stage talents and younger thesps, pic positively drips with sumptuous landscapes and ethnic color (especially local Alawi culture), signaling potentially healthy sales on European TV channels.
It’s summer ’73, in the city of Malatya, and rebellious young beanpole Esma Hanim (Ece Eksi), following disastrous grades, is sent off to the rural home of her father’s army buddy while the rest of her family heads for the seaside. Among all the ornery old country women, Esma finds a soulmate in Saliha (Lale Mansur), who rebelled against an arranged marriage — and a potential boyfriend in handsome tractor driver Huseyin (Cologne-born Luk Piyes); but some hard life lessons await her. Piyes is restrained after his debut as a cocky young hoodlum in Lars Becker’s “Kanak Attack,” but it’s the young Eksi (like a young, prettier Charlotte Gainsbourg) and the mellow Mansur who give the film some heart beneath the rich visuals by German d.p. Juergen Juerges (“Code Unknown”).