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[ Farewell to summer] The summer of all revelations

[ Farewell to summer] The summer of all revelations

“There is the sky, the sun and the sea…” Farewell to summer by Koji Fukada resonates like François Deguelt’s song. Bordering on a vacation film and an attempt at a social depiction of Japan, the summer of Fukada keeps the warmth of the season but also its profound lightness.

 Is summer film a genre? Sitting all the way up in the Katorza Cinema, I am waiting eagerly for Farewell to summer, one of the movies of the festival’s official selection. Charlotte Garson, the organiser of the event, presents us the summer of Fukada as “a summer film”.

 The former critic of the Cahiers du Cinéma points out that the Japanese director will be there during the festival and really hopes to hear the public’s point of view on his picture. For my part, such a title almost makes me fear a sunburn.

An angelic face, calmly leaning on the window of a suburban train, Sakuko, well-behaved and dreamy goes to her holiday resort. As soon as she arrives at the train station, light is soft and summer palpable. The omnipresent song of the crickets drowns us in a familiar space, the one of the beginning of promising holidays where sun and farniente will be part of the summer. A notebook page or maybe of a diary indicates the passage of time and the inevitable summer’s end. Welcomed by her step-aunt Mikkie, and one of her former lovers, Ukichi, the beautiful Sakuko already dives into the sinuous torments of family secrets. She does not know it yet but her stay will be the stage for love stories and other intimates confidences.

Japanese flip side of This summer by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, and Rohmerian universe, Farewell to summer gathers of the elements of a beach comedy drama, Love, revelations, sex, alcoholic dinners that end late in the night… The summer becomes the season of all dangers, the parenthesis where everyone reveals himself and takes time to go through a personal introspection over the ocean’s lapping.

 The sun and the sea but not only

 Despite subjects more than superficial, worthy of a bad soap opera, Fukada has the finesse to blend in a more delicate intrigue in his teenage story. Tasting the famous summer ice cream, the young woman will not be able to miss the insurrection of a handful of villagers demonstrating against nuclear power. Suddenly, Fukushima and the tsunami come back to the foreground like a resistant stain that, even during this sunny break, takes root implicitly and brings back the vacationers to the harsh reality of the day.

 The movie is not carried away by Koji Fukada’s filming. However, little treasures like Ukichi’s “Love hotel”, where all vices get comfortable, demonstrate that the Japanese director masters his subject and knows how to interlock his romance in a raw reality, against the backdrop of adultery and fee-based love. Improbable in the post card landscape with a sweet flavour. A surprising mix but, however, it does not manage to shake the spectators off the torpor induced by the film.

A feeling a priori shared by the spectators. The curtain is brought down, no hubbub of commentaries rise up in the auditorium. No applause, usually common at the 3 Continents Festival. The credits barely started, the theatre is already getting empty. Though the audience looked rather vivacious at the beginning of the screening when it demanded French subtitles, interrupting the show to finally savour their picture.

End result: I avoided sunburn as much as dazzling.


Céline GARDET 

Gianni Castillo et Jean-Jacques Malo – Translation

Fiche technique
Film & Réalisateur  : Au revoir l’été,  Koji Fukada
Pays : Japon, USA
Année  : 2013 
Durée  :  125 min
Première diffusion: Jeudi 21 Novembre à 18h au Katorza