Philippe Garrel at his lushest and mercifully at his most accessible. "A Burning Hot Summer" is a delectably sensuous tale of amour fou in which two couples spend a summer together in Rome; a case of Godard meets Minnelli. So as not to stray too far from the fold, Garrel makes one of the women, (Monica Belluci),an actress married to a so-so painter, (Garrel's son, Louis),and the other couple, movie extras. It's the same kind of self-enclosed world Woody Allen might inhabit sans the humour or indeed any attempt at Gallic charm; at times it reminded me of how Joan Crawford used to suffer in mink. All four central performances are excellent, even the usually reticent Louis Garrel makes his mark here. Unfortunately none of these people are particularly likeable and outside of the movie I'm sure I wouldn't want to know them. For once, however, that doesn't prove a barrier when the film is as smart as this one.
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Frédéric and Angèle are a married couple, he a painter, she an actress of some renown who gave up her career to be with him. She is a woman who most men desire. Struggling actors Paul and Élisabeth, neither who has any money, start to date after they meet as extras on a movie set. Shortly before Paul and Élisabeth met, Frédéric and Paul became friends after being introduced by a mutual acquaintance. By association, all four become friends, especially strengthened when Paul and Élisabeth decide to move into Frédéric and Angèle's spacious apartment in Rome. Following an attempted suicide by Frédéric, Paul reflects on the friendship between the four. Because of physical proximity, they couldn't help but become closer emotionally. So whenever something happened within one of their lives, either directly concerning one or more of the others or not, it couldn't help but affect the other three, the battle lines more often drawn not by couple but by gender.
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Godard meets Minnelli
I liked this film.
The meaning is in the eye of a perceiver. I liked this movie. The acting was superb, which is expected from french actors. Louis Garrel is a very talented actor. I disagree with the reviewer from Oklahoma in regards to "actors dress and personal hygiene " and "The woman in the film regarded as an outstanding beauty would not be so to most American viewers". I am not French, but have European upbringing and I find this opinion as arrogant and stuck-up. There is nothing in this movie suggests that the actor"s hygiene is poor and they dress like slobs. Hollywood movies actors are so fake, so polished , so unrealistic and talentless, that I stopped watching it long time ago. As for the Monica Bellucci's beauty, once again, American standards are fake beauty of over-groomed people, while Monica Bellucci is a classic beauty. I can't name one single modern American actress that is a real, classic beauty. There are few young Hollywood actresses that are natural beauties, but they are not born American (Natalie Portman,Kate Beckinsale,Charlize Theron).
As this story begins, we watch Frederic, a young French painter, accelerating his car and crashing into a tree. We have no clue as to what appears to be a state of mind that drove this man into doing such a terrible act. In flashbacks we are introduced to Paul, a fried of the painter, who serves as the narrator of the story. Paul, a bit player in movies, met Frederic as a mutual friend took him to the painter's place, where a painting catches the eye of the actor. Paul, who by now is living with Elisabeth, an actress he met on location, is invited to go to Rome to see first hand the works of Frederic.
Frederic, who is married to Angele, an actress, whose work is finally being recognized, spends his summer in a magnificent house where he works. Angele, is an unhappy woman. She reveals to Elisabeth the state of her relationship with Frederic. She confesses to her friend her husband's fondness for visiting prostitutes. She, herself, has no problems in her involvement with men, something that her husband senses, but never questions Angele. Angele, working on a new film is involved with the director, Rolande, a friend of her husband's. She has come into the conclusion her marriage is a sham and must leave him. Thus, the state of mind of Frederic when we met him.
Philippe Garrel, the director of "Un ete brulant", must have had his son Louis in his heart to lead this project, as it becomes apparent it was a vehicle for his son. Written by M. Garrel in collaboration with Caroline Deruas-Garrel and Marc Cholodenko. It is based on the life on a friend of the director, a painter, whose life served as the basis for the scenario. Paul, the actor friend, is a revolutionary, but alas, he likes the worry free life his friend Frederic gives him in a beautiful surrounding without any care in the world, or much less, worries about money he obviously does not have. Paul makes statements as far as how a revolution must happen, sooner or later, and his complete abhorrence for the then French president, Nicolas Sarkozy.
Best thing in the film is Celine Sallette, Paul's lover and future wife. She watches quietly how her hosts' lives unravel and end badly. Louis Garrel has handsome looks with an unruly mop of black curls. His Frederic is a study in despair, in spite of having fame, he is miserable because of the way Angele drifts apart. Monica Belucci, a gorgeous woman, does not show anything in this film with her flat performance, something that surprised this viewer. Her appearance in the film is a puzzle, the way her role was conceived. Maurice Garrel, the father of the director, shows up briefly as the dead grandfather.