Industrial depression doesn’t get more depressing than in “C’est deja l’ete” (literally, “It’s Already Summer”), an undisciplined debut feature by writer-director Martijn Maria Smits. Shooting in the locale (Seraing, Belgium) where the Dardenne brothers lense most of their pics, Smits lacks the sense of urgency the siblings bring to their working-class stories, turning this tale of a fragmented family headed toward oblivion into another perversely voyeuristic look at society’s underbelly. With too many similar items around, it’s likely only smaller fests will express interest.
First half-hour alternates grainy images of seedy industrial landscapes with establishing scenes of Benjamin (Benjamin Willem), 14, older sis Marie (Julie Anson) and dad Jean (Patrick Descamps). Jean’s wife did a runner, and now the family is teetering: Benjamin prefers petty vandalism to school, Marie barely knows what to do with her infant, and Jean pretends he’s still employed at the factory. When Benjamin steals a gun from an unlocked car’s glove compartment, disaster is inevitable. Aimless scenes of Jean drinking at a pub, or of soccer players after a game, offer texture without focus. Too often, a shaky camera signals gritty realism.