This queer coming-of-age romance combines all the sensuality of François Ozon’s best with the infectious energy of a CW drama and how meeting one person can open you up and change the trajectory of your life.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2021
Call Me By Your Name meets God’s Own Country in the north of France in Summer of 85, Ozon’s adaptation of Aidan Chamber’s classic 1982 novel, Dance on My Grave. The action shifts from Southend-on-Sea to Le Tréport, and centres on Alex (a febrile Félix Lefebvre), a moody teen caught in the ardour of another young man, the mercurial David (Benjamin Voisin). This romantic, coming-of-age drama plays out with the sensuality that Ozon is loved for.
Where Summer of 85 differs from the icons of queer cinema is that it shows us the thrill of young love as much as it does the cost of it. Ozon throws us deeply into the head of Alex, alienated from the world that raised him, so that when we meet David, we understand why this boy would follow him into the ocean and keep on walking. As his mother (a brilliant Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi) says, almost as a warning, “My David needs a friend”.
Summer of 85 is about more than just friends. It’s about meeting that one person who opens you up, and changes the entire trajectory of your life. The novel may be called Dance on My Grave, but Summer of 85 is about dancing, and living, while you’re here to enjoy it. — Sam Brooks