L'été en pente douce (1987) from ICMS

L'été en pente douce ("Summer in a Soft Slope," as the film's title would translate into English) is a sweet French movie set in a village in the southern countryside. Basically there are three main characters: Fane (short for Stéphane; Jean-Pierre Bacri), his mentally handicapped brother Maurice (Jacques Villeret) and Lilas (Pauline Lafont). Fane first lives on his own in an apartment in a town. He obtains Lilas from his woman-bashing neighbor in exchange for a rabbit he stole from the supermarket where he works.
When the brothers' mother dies, Fane leaves the town and takes Lilas along to the village where he was born and moves in with Maurice in what was once their parents' house. He makes the move to prevent Maurice from being sent to an institution. That is not at all to the liking of their neighbors, two brothers who each own a garage on either side of the house. They had hoped to buy the house so they could turn their two garages into one big establishment.
Lilas is a free-spirited woman who likes to flaunt what the Lord has given her, and likes to look like Marilyn Monroe. In such a small village she is immediately branded as a whore and is never accepted by the community. No one seems to notice that she is not a threat to their lifestyle in any way, since she only seems interested in Fane, and she desperately wants children. Well, she wants Maurice too, to be honest, but that's where she draws the line. The dramatic conflicts hinge on whether the villagers will succeed in driving Lilas out of town, whether our threesome will turn out to be closer than they ever could imagine, and whether the garage owners will obtain the house.
All in all, it is a quiet and nice little film, at times dragging its feet a bit, but never enough to force a grab for the fast forward button. It never seems too serious or tense because all the action seems to be set in an imaginary world where no one is the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree. Therefore it never becomes hard to watch, since you know that everything is to be taken with a grain of salt.
Hats off to the DP, for the lighting is simply beautiful. The actors did a more than competent job, with Jacques Villeret exceeding them all in the role of the mentally challenged Maurice. You can even see Claude Chabrol in a bit part as the local priest. Gérard Krawczyk directed and co-wrote. He is the guy who would later spawn the 3 popular Taxi films in Europe, which even caused a remake in the US starring Queen Latifah.
The female star, Pauline Lafont, died under tragic circumstances in the summer of 1988, only a year after making this film. She was hiking completely on her own in some remote part of southern France. When she was on a trail where practically no human being ever passes, she had a nasty fall, slid off the track and broke a leg. Unable to get back to civilization (and with no cell phones back then), she died from starvation and her body was not found by the gendarmerie until weeks later.


  • No Region 1 DVD available



Pauline LaFont shows it all.

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The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, it's a C

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