We have seen a multitude of films dealing with hopeful youthful first love and hopeless turbulent abusive marriage, though never occupying the same film. The unusual and original Swiss import "Summer Games" harbors all the above, combining dark and light and it’s both a blessing and a curse.
Nic is a troubled boy. His father is an abusive hothead who flies off the handle at the drop of a hat, his mother has already left the family and he has seemingly become detached emotionally. But during a summer by the seaside he meets Marie, a girl who catches the eye of the disturbed boy. His intentions may be good, but with the arrival of his mother back into the picture and the father resuming the cycle anew, Nic falls into dark territory that threatens his newfound infatuation.
Again, unique story perspective is not the problem of "Summer Games." The pairing of almost homicidal teen tendencies with the curiousness of first infatuation does take the cake for inventiveness, but their co-existence here is ultimately saddening and uncomfortable. Not to mention that neither side of "Summer Games" is fully realized. Plus the seemingly numb Nic is a very hard character to like or even sympathize with – he’s John Cusack in "Say Anything" one minute, a young Macaulay Culkin in "The Good Son" the next. I must admit the origin of his malice, the troubled relationship between his ever-clashing parents, is a side of the story I didn't like. It doesn’t move the film forward, doesn’t inform the lead past the first violent episode and in the end feels a tad forced.
I did take note that Director Rolando Colla is a visual storyteller (his shots of the beauty of Tuscany is breathtaking!) with some serious potential, but this film is not his swan song. I’m all for mixing things up and exploring things anew, but "Summer Games" is like a rocky marriage – big highs and large lows with no end in sight.
Title: "Summer Games"
Stars: 2 1/2
Cast: Armando Condolucci, Fiorella Campanella, Allessi Barela
Director: Rolando Colla
Running Time: 101 Minutes
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