×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘The Story of a Summer Lover’

An immature math professor in an open relationship has to decide whether to man up when his girlfriend announces she’s pregnant.

Director:
Paul Negoescu
With:
Alexandru Papadopol, Radu Romaniuc, Rolando Matsangos, Nicoleta Lefter, Crina Semciuc, Smaranda Caragea, Liana Ceterchi, Iulia Ciochină, Nicoleta Lefter, Marius Drogeanu, Angela Ioan, Olimpia Mălai. (Romanian dialogue)

1 hour 39 minutes

With his third feature, rising Romanian director Paul Negoescu (“A Month in Thailand,” “Two Lottery Tickets”) reaches back to a time when Woody Allen’s name was associated with intelligent romantic comedies and jazz, delivering a film drenched in Allen-esque situations replanted in Bucharest. That in itself is fine, yet while “The Story of a Summer Lover” is intended as an homage to those classic films, down to the use of music and specific urban settings, Negoescu lacks the ability to make his schlubby characters interesting.

Instead, this overly chatty story of a math professor who finds more satisfaction sleeping with nubile students than with his girlfriend merely hauls out yet another bunch of unexceptional navel-gazing characters whose physical and intellectual attractions will escape most audiences’ comprehension. It’s good to see Romanian cinema continuing to diversify, but this isn’t quite the thinking man’s comedy it very much wants to be.

The triumvirate of friends in the superior “Two Lottery Tickets” have far more energy and humor than the three chums here: Math professor Petru (Alexandru Papadopol), writer Silviu (Radu Romaniuc) and actor Andi (Rolando Matsangos) sit in cafés or walk the city endlessly talking in circles. Petru is the film’s flawed hero but also the one with the weakest backbone. He’s a thirtysomething adolescent who combines a need for instant gratification with moral cowardice and a lack of responsibility. Unable to reach orgasm with his partner Irina (Nicoleta Lefter), he finds gratification with coeds from his university like Cristina (Iulia Ciochină), defending himself against his friends’ ragging by saying that at least he doesn’t sleep with students in his own classes.

Although Petru and Irina have an open relationship, he decides to call it quits until she announces she’s pregnant. Given his inability to ejaculate, the news comes as a shock, but the fetus is definitely his and although he’s constitutionally unprepared to be a father, he figures he’d better support Irina’s decision. Irina however finally wakes up to the fact that he’s an immature companion and tells him not only that the relationship is over, but she’s aborting. While he smarts from the rejection and debates whether to try reversing Irina’s decision, he begins a flirtation with Sînziana (Crina Semciuc), a student he’s begun to tutor.

The bare bones sound familiar, right? Middle-aged chatterbox attracted to barely legal girls comes to a relationship impasse and has to decide whether to finally own up to a life of responsibility. At least Allen’s neurotic alter-egos had self-deprecating charm and were funny; he also breathed life into many female characters, though to be fair “Summer Lover” has a higher percentage of women (largely in secondary roles) than Negoescu’s previous films. Besides just an overall lack of impetus, the main problem with the movie is that Petru’s immaturity makes him an exceedingly dull protagonist. In addition, the idea for the umpteenth time that unremarkable thirtysomethings are somehow catnip to girls just out of their teens needs to be put to rest.

Using voiceover, Negoescu has Silviu relate the story of a thinly fictionalized version of Petru he’s writing as a short story, yet the device doesn’t work. Pushing Woody Allen themes, the director opens with a nighttime montage of city shots accompanied by vintage music (in this case, early 1930s tango songs by the marvelous Romanian singer Titi Botez), and later includes a basketball scene along with conversations in city parks that check off numerous Allen boxes. Visually the film has little to hold interest.

Film Review: 'The Story of a Summer Lover'

Reviewed at Transylvania International Film Festival (Romanian Days), May 31, 2018. Running time: 99 MIN. (Original titles: “Povestea unui pierde-vară”)

Production: (Romania-Bulgaria) An N-Graphix, Papillon Film, Screening Emotions production. (International sales: Papillon Film, Bucharest.) Producer: Paul Negoescu. Coproducers: Poli Angelova, Nickolay Todorov.

Crew: Director, screenplay: Paul Negoescu. Camera (color): Ana Drăghici. Editor: Dragoş Apetri. Music: Hristo Namliev.

With: Alexandru Papadopol, Radu Romaniuc, Rolando Matsangos, Nicoleta Lefter, Crina Semciuc, Smaranda Caragea, Liana Ceterchi, Iulia Ciochină, Nicoleta Lefter, Marius Drogeanu, Angela Ioan, Olimpia Mălai. (Romanian dialogue)

More Film

  • Will Smith Jada Pinkett Smith

    AFI, Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation Launch Second Young Women in Film Intensive

    The AFI Conservatory and the Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation have partnered to launch the second annual Young Women in Film Intensive. The AFI Campus in Los Angeles will host 45 high school girls for an eight-week filmmaking workshop, where students will receive mentorship from current fellows and working professional alumni of the AFI [...]

  • Paul Davidson

    The Orchard Head Content Executive Paul Davidson Steps Down

    At the finish line of its sale to 1091 Media, distributor the Orchard’s film and TV head Paul Davidson is parting ways with the company. In an amicable split, the creative executive addressed staff in person and in a company-wide memo on Tuesday in New York City to inform them of his decision. “While I [...]

  • Ava DuVernay Toby Emmerich Michael Douglas

    Ava DuVernay, Toby Emmerich, Michael Douglas to Speak at Produced By Conference

    Ava DuVernay, Toby Emmerich, and Michael Douglas will speak at the Producers Guild of America’s 11th Produced By Conference. The event will be held on June 8-9 at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, Calif. Other notable speakers include Netflix executive Cindy Holland; Blumhouse producer Marci Wiseman; “Homecoming” showrunners Micah Bloomberg and Eli Horowitz; Entertainment One [...]

  • Jean Francois Helene Etzi

    Disney's French Chief Jean-Francois Camilleri Exiting, Helene Etzi Upped

    Jean-Francois Camilleri is leaving Disney after more than 30 years and will replaced as the head of its French operation by Helene Etzi. Sources said Camilleri’s departure was his own decision. He announced his exit on Twitter, Tuesday, and paid tribute to his team and colleagues at Disney, thanking them for the “unique adventure.” In [...]

  • dumbo Tim Burton

    Film Review: Tim Burton's 'Dumbo'

    The key image in Walt Disney’s 1941 “Dumbo” is something out of a fairy-tale daydream: Dumbo, the baby elephant with long-lashed goo-goo eyes, a cuddly grin, and ears as long and floppy as wings, flapping those ears to soar around a circus big top, flying over the crowds with a freedom as touching as it [...]

  • Guys and Dolls

    'Guys and Dolls' Getting Remade at TriStar (EXCLUSIVE)

    “Guys and Dolls,” the venerable Broadway musical, is set to return to the big screen. TriStar Pictures has purchased remake rights to the original Damon Runyon short stories about gamblers and gangsters that inspired the shows, as well as the rights to the Broadway musical with its book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content