×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Paul Negoescu Pays Homage to Woody Allen With ‘Summer Lover’

Relationship comedy bows in Transilvania’s Romanian Days

Paul Negoescu realized he hit the jackpot with “Two Lottery Tickets,” the low-budget comedy he shot for around €30,000 ($35,000) which – to the surprise of everyone, including the director himself – would become the top-grossing Romanian film of 2016, raking in €540,000 ($630,000) at the box office.

But for a helmer whose first feature, “A Month in Thailand,” screened in the Venice Film Festival’s Critics’ Week, a breakout, box-office hit didn’t change expectations for his third movie, “The Story of a Summer Lover,” which world premiered in the Transilvania Intl. Film Festival May 31.

“It’s a different film,” says Negoescu, calling “Summer Lover” a “personal story” that he suspects will appeal to a smaller, niche audience. Modest ambitions aside, the movie is bound to generate buzz off of Negoescu’s earlier successes; even if it can’t match “Lottery’s” big payout, “people will hear about this film, for sure,” he says.

The eponymous anti-hero of “Summer Lover” is the philandering Petru, an adjunct math professor who splits moral hairs with mathematical precision when he justifies bedding co-eds half his age. (They’re not his students, he insists.) Content to continue reaping the benefits of an open relationship, his endless summer comes to a jarring end when his girlfriend suddenly announces she’s pregnant. Faced with the prospect of commitment, Petru can’t quiet his doubts any more than he can silence the troublesome pigeons nesting in the rafters of his bachelor pad.

Though Negoescu’s original screenplay mined that unexpected pregnancy for all its dramatic worth, script doctor Jacques Akchoti steered him toward comedy instead, during workshops at the Jerusalem-based Sam Spiegel Intl. Film Lab. Studying the filmography of Woody Allen, Negoescu soon found himself channeling the neurotic protagonists of the director’s early works, casting Alexandru Papadopol – star and co-producer of “Lottery” – as Petru, a “hypochondriac, paranoiac [who’s] questioning everything around him.

“I never thought I could make a film in [Allen’s] style,” Negoescu says, although he’d always admired the director’s movies. “[‘Summer Lover’] is not only inspired by Woody Allen’s films, but it’s an homage to him.”

Cue the horns. Just as George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” announces the opening montage of “Manhattan,” “Summer Lover” swells with the musical arrangements of composer Hristo Namliev, who reworked the popular songs of the early-20th-century musician Titi Botez. While the “foot loose and fancy free” lover of the titular song describes the bed-hopping Petru to a tee, Namliev’s score is also the perfect musical accompaniment for what Negoescu describes as “a very romanticized version of Bucharest.”

It’s a flight of fancy that should play well with Romanian audiences accustomed to seeing a more dour vision of the capital onscreen: even a fledgling post-Communist state has room for swanky bars and bistros alongside its Soviet-era office blocks and hospital wards. Negoescu credits the unfussy, unpretentious style of “Lottery” for its great success, a sentiment echoed by Petru in “Summer Lover’s” opening scene, when he protests to his friends, “People won’t pay for what they can’t understand.” Even Shakespeare, he notes, “wrote simple stories for regular people. Boy loves girl—conflict.”

Rendered with all the certainty of a mathematical proof, it’s a formula that Negoescu follows to the letter, even if he insists his crowd-pleaser stems from deeper artistic convictions.

“If you want to make a success, you don’t need to think about what the audience would like to see,” he says. “If you’re true and honest in your intentions…then your film will be liked by the audience, too.”

More Film

  • ‘Girl On The Train’ India Remake

    ‘Girl On The Train’ Indian Remake Set at Reliance Entertainment (EXCLUSIVE)

    India’s Reliance Entertainment will produce the official Indian remake of Tate Taylor’s 2016 film “The Girl On The Train.” Ribhu Dasgupta, who is currently completing Netflix series “Bard Of Blood,” being produced by Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment, will direct. Parineeti Chopra (“Kesari”) will star. Production will commence at U.K. locations from mid-July. Based [...]

  • 'Avengers: Endgame' Cast Gets Hands and

    Watch Live: 'Avengers' Cast Gets Hands and Feet Cemented at TCL Chinese Theater in Hollywood

    The Avengers have left an indelible mark on popular culture and now they are doing the same to the cement floor outside of the TCL Chinese Theater. Watch the livestream video of “Avengers: Endgame” cast Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans,  Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner and Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige imprinting [...]

  • Zachary Levi

    'Shazam!' Star Zachary Levi to Host 2019 MTV Movie & TV Awards

    “Shazam!” star Zachary Levi will be suiting up next for the 2019 MTV Movie & TV Awards in June. Levi will emcee the award show on June 17 at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, Calif. Nominees will be announced in the coming weeks. Fresh off DC Comics’ latest blockbuster, Levi is no stranger to [...]

  • Steve Golin The Revenant Spotlight Producer

    'Spotlight' Director Tom McCarthy Remembers Steve Golin as 'A Warrior and a Mensch'

    It was a brutal process to get “Spotlight” made. The movie was dead at least three times before we shot it because of financing problems, studio problems, deadlines, actors’ availability and the time of year we could shoot. There were moments when Steve and I were just going at it. We’d have hilarious late-night correspondence. [...]

  • "A War Within"

    SF Studios Scoops International Sales to 'Grandpas,' 'A War Within' (EXCLUSIVE)

    SF Studios has scooped international sales rights to Santiago Requejo’s heartfelt comedy drama “Grandpas” and Kasper Torsting’s WWI-set Danish love drama “A War Within” in the run up to Cannes. Both films are third-party pickups. “Grandpas” is a high-profile Spanish movie starring Carlos Iglesias (“Crossing Borders”), Roberto Álvarez (“Talk to her”) and Ramón Barea (“Everybody [...]

  • 'Gemini Man' First Trailer Drops With

    Will Smith Faces Off Against Himself in Ang Lee's 'Gemini Man' Trailer

    Will Smith battles a familiar antagonist in the official trailer for Ang Lee’s “Gemini Man” — himself. Paramount Pictures and Skydance Media dropped dazzling new footage of the futuristic sci-fi drama, scored to a haunting version of “Forever Young,” that sees Smith playing an elite assassin. Things get tricky when he finds out the man [...]

  • Werner Herzog

    Film Constellation Boards Werner Herzog's Japanese Film 'Family Romance' (EXCLUSIVE)

    London-based sales house Film Constellation has boarded Oscar-winning director Werner Herzog’s Japanese-language narrative film “Family Romance,” which will have its world premiere in the special screenings section at the Cannes Film Festival. Written and directed by Herzog, the movie was shot last spring and summer in Tokyo and Aomori, Japan, with non-professional actors (Yuichi Ishii, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content