Future Frames Review: Where the Summer Goes (Chapters on Youth)
by Laurence Boyce
- As part of EFP's Future Frames at Karlovy Vary 2018, David Pinheiro Vicente presents a breathtakingly beautiful and elliptical look at the freedom of teenage years
Portuguese short filmmaking is entering something of a golden age at this moment in time, with films such as Leonor Teles’ Balada de um Batráquio, Diogo Costa Amarante’s Small Town (Cidade Pequena) – both of which won the Golden Bear at Berlin - and Jorge Jácome’sFlores as just some examples of films from the country that are finding themselves extremely popular on the festival circuit. David Pinheiro Vicente’s Where the Summer Goes (Chapters on Youth) [Onde o Verão Vai (episódios da juventude)] – which itself premiered at this year’s Berlin Film Festival – provides an important addition to this canon of great Portuguese shorts as, like many of his contemporaries, Vicente eschews narrative in favour of an elliptical and dreamlike affair that depicts a languorous and lazy summer’s day
Beginning with a group of teenagers in a car, one of the group recounts a tale of a man who was delighted by the fact that his pet snake slept stretched out beside him until it was pointed out that the snake was in fact measuring him to be potentially devoured. There’s a certain sense of whimsy in this moment – the most dialogue heavy in the movie – but there’s a slight sense of unease and loss of innocence hanging in the air. But, after being cramped the car at the beginning of the film, the world is opened up as the strip away their clothes and go to swim in the lake. What follows is a series of almost tableaux.A couple swim and kiss. Other sit on the bank and dry themselves off. A normal, hot summer’s day of seemingly ordinary moments that Vicente transcends with a painterly eye.
It’s hard not to make comparisons with the aforementioned Small Town with both films dealing with memory, youth and the loss of innocence. But here the loss of innocence is a distant threat with the snake imagery (a snake itself slithers into one later scene – both phallic and biblical – at odds with the serenity on offer. Yes, innocence and summer days will always pass, but the memories will always remain.
There’s very much a sense of the tactile here. A shot of sandy feet, the ripple of the water, the rustle of the trees. A Proustian jumble of taste, smell and feeling that transports one to a certain time. There’s also a sense of the unabashed, the free. No-one is body conscious here and there’s an amount of sensuousness of the human form as it moves in the water or stands in the sun – but there is never any hint of voyeurism here.
Its inclusion in EFP’s Future Frames at Karlovy Vary should add to the kudos of Where the Summer Goes (Chapters on Youth) and it’s already good showing of the festival circuit should continue. It’s consistently beautiful aesthetic and the careful eye of the talented Vicente make it a film to be savoured.
For more information on Where the Summer Goes (Chapters on Youth) click here.
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