×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

A Cold Summer

The chance meeting of two stressed-out, romantically vulnerable twentysomethings initiates this raw examination of life in the emotional outer limits. New Zealand-born, Sydney-based director Paul Middleditch's Dogma-style approach to his second feature occasionally veers toward the indulgent but is rescued by strong performances and the integrity of its messages about love and truth.

With:
Bobby - Teo Gebert Tia - Olivia Pigeot Phaedra - Susan Prior Craig - Dan Wyllie Fred Zerrella - Marin Mimica Mario - Paul Kelman

A correction was made to this review on August 3, 2003.

The chance meeting of two stressed-out, romantically vulnerable twentysomethings initiates this raw examination of life in the emotional outer limits. New Zealand-born, Sydney-based director Paul Middleditch’s Dogma-style approach to his second feature occasionally veers toward the indulgent but is rescued by strong performances and the integrity of its messages about love and truth. Pic will struggle to find wide commercial acceptance but can look forward to a substantial fest run, and theatrical distribution in selected urban venues is not out of the question.

Middleditch and main cast members shared living quarters while developing screenplay months before lensing started. Test scenes were shot on mini DV and shaped into final draft with gaps left for on-set improv during the six-day production shoot. Result is high velocity drama.

Jazz singer Tia (Olivia Pigeot) runs down a road beneath the Sydney Harbor Bridge, cursing the junkies who’ve just stolen her handbag. Bobby (Teo Gebert), an advertising exec who’s been living in his car and hiding from cops who caught him driving drunk, crawls out of the rock face above the bridge.

Tempestuous passion erupts when the couple retires to a local pub, as verbal barbs quickly escalate to fast and furious sex in an alley. Soon, full-tilt sexual obsession finds the duo making it whenever Tia’s unseen husband is away. After a chance meeting between Tia and her old school friend Phaedra (Susan Prior), a plain Jane who works in a florist shop and lives alone in the outer suburb of their childhoods, Girl talk opens up doubts about Tia’s apparently exciting and successful life, and events come to a head when a thwarted sexual encounter between Phaedra and Bobby makes everyone’s secrets and lies unsustainable.

Under Middleditch’s careful guidance, the cast excels at stripping away the characters’ protective shields. Of particular note is Prior’s Phaedra, who shifts quickly between deep depression and boundless optimism.In a couple of improvisational scenes, the actors appear to be awkwardly reaching for words. Doubtless, ultra-tight shooting schedule played a part in creating minor potholes in an otherwise powerful and convincingly staged three-hander, which benefits from the well-judged injections of painfully funny observations about human nature at its best and worst. Tone and urgency of pic is enhanced by d.p. Steve Mason’s robust hand-held photography and the use of bleach bypass processing to create gritty textures in synch with subject matter. Claire Jordan’s pacey, violin-led score contributes well to the overall effect, though it’s allowed to dominate unnecessarily in some spots. Rest of tech work is solid.

A Cold Summer

Australia

Production: An Eltham Strathmore Pictures production. (International sales: Tank Films, Sydney.) Produced by Paul Middleditch, Grace Yee. Executive producer, Stuart Quinn. Directed by Paul Middleditch. Screenplay, Teo Gebert, Olivia Pigeot, Susan Prior, Middleditch.

Crew: Camera (Cinevex color), Steve Arnold; editor, Peter Whitmore; music, Claire Jordan; costume designer, Meg Gordon; sound (Dolby Digital), John O'Connell; assistant director, Eddie Thorne; casting; Kirsty McGregor. Reviewed at Sydney Film Festival, June 14, 2003. Running time: 86 MIN.

With: Bobby - Teo Gebert Tia - Olivia Pigeot Phaedra - Susan Prior Craig - Dan Wyllie Fred Zerrella - Marin Mimica Mario - Paul Kelman

More Film

  • RUDOLF NUREYEV 1961

    Film Review: 'Nureyev'

    It would be absurd to say that Rudolf Nureyev lived, or danced, in anyone’s shadow. He was a man who leapt and twirled and flew onstage, all muscle but light as a feather, with a freedom and force that reconfigured the human spirit. There’s no denying, though, that over the last few decades, and especially [...]

  • Die Kinder Der Toten review

    Film Review: 'Die Kinder Der Toten'

    The hills are alive (or rather, undead), with the sound of music (also mastication and the moaning of zombies) in Kelly Copper and Pavol Liska’s experimental, dialogue-free, home-movie-style riff on Elfriede Jelinek’s “Die Kinder Der Toten” (The Children of the Dead). A seminal text in Jelinek’s native Austria, the 1995 book has never been translated [...]

  • Idol review

    Film Review: 'Idol'

    How many twists can a plot undergo before it snaps? This, more than any of the many political, moral and personal conundrums that snake through “Idol,” seems to be the question writer-director Lee Su-jin is most interested in posing with his extravagantly incomprehensible sophomore feature. A seedy political thriller by way of grisly revenge movie [...]

  • The Last to See Them review

    Film Review: 'The Last to See Them'

    Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood” stretches long as a late-evening shadow over Italian director Sara Summa’s feature debut “The Last to See Them.” The Italian title, “Gli Ultimi Viderli Vivere” which translates literally to “The Last to See Them Alive,” is also the heading of the opening chapter of Capote’s book. The setting is, similarly, [...]

  • Kalank

    Film Review: ‘Kalank’

    Events leading to the 1947 Partition of India serve as the forebodingly serious backdrop for the exhaustingly overextended razzmatazz of “Kalank,” writer-director Abhishek Varman’s lavish but ponderous Bollywood extravaganza, which opened in the U.S. on more than 300 screens the same day as its Indian release. Despite the preponderance of sets and costumes spectacular enough [...]

  • WGA Agency Packaging Fight Placeholder Writer

    WGA: 92 Percent of Writers Who Signed Statement of Support Have Fired Agents

    The Writers Guild of America estimated that over 92 percent of their members who support a new code of conduct for talent agencies have fired those representatives. Letters announcing formal termination will be delivered on Monday, the guild said in a late-hitting memo on Thursday, as most agencies will be closed tomorrow in observance of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content