Summer of 85 Movie Review


Adapted from the novel “Dance on my Grave” by Aidan Chambers, writer/director François Ozon (In the House, Swimming Pool), chooses to start his narrative with 80’s music and a voice-over.
One of the main characters, sixteen-year-old Alex (Félix Lefebvre), tells us (or gives away) an essential plotline of the film. Don’t fret. What he says only strengthens the reason to stay with the movie, not to leave.


He says, “If your hobby is death, you must be mad.” He then professes, “Mad, I may be. Crazy, I am not.” Alex goes on to ask us not to take him for a psycho, suggesting that corpses are not his thing. However, for some reason, he informs us that death does interest him some.

This seems odd. Now you question the genre. Just what kind of movie is this? Then again, doesn’t death interest a lot of people, honestly? The unknown of it all is something you can’t help but ponder on occasion. Unless you’re too frightened to, you’re going to find yourself wandering down that road more and more as you inch closer to those larger numbers.
I digress. There’s a reason why Alex is telling us his feelings on death. He’s about to go through the shock and agony of it.


Alex, a very kind young man who hasn’t had many life experiences as of yet, is in his junior year of high school. His father (Laurent Fernandez) wants him to go to work. His teacher, Monsieur Lefèvre (Melvil Poupaud), who is very friendly with Alex and loves his writing, encourages him to stay in school. Alex has no plan to work until he meets David Gorman, played by Benjamin Voisin, who plays the role sporting a mullet. This does not distract from his looks.
Alex ends up working for David and his mother (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) in their little shop at the marina. He has never enjoyed himself more and is getting closer and closer to David. The latter has made his feelings for Alex known rather quickly.
Ah, young love. Isn’t it sweet? Well, prepare yourself; it doesn’t last long. Only six weeks, in fact. David’s death is the one Alex is talking about.


After they meet, Alex’s behavior shows his lack of maturity. He may be swept off his feet, but does eighteen-year-old David, the love of his life, feel as strongly? It would seem he does. David has even just made Alex take an oath with him. He makes Alex promise that whoever dies first, the other will dance on his grave. The pledge seems silly to Alex, but he agrees, which lands him in trouble with the police when he attempts to fulfill it.


“Summer of 85” is not told linearly. It hops all over the place, before David’s death and after, but it doesn’t lose pace, never once losing your interest.
The story of learning the splendor and the pain of true love feels authentic and is handled with delicacy.
When Alex knows it’s over, it does seem hurried, but this works because wouldn’t it have felt abrupt to the adolescent suffering through it, too? I won’t give you those details because not knowing what happens to David and why intoxicates you as it hovers there, yet to be revealed.


The story is moving, the acting is satisfying, and the cinematography is lovely. The movies most akin to this, that I could think of, are “Call Me By My Name” and “Blue is the Warmest Color.” If you liked those, you’d enjoy “Summer of 85” as well. The music is excellent, with songs like Rod Stewart’s “Sailing” and The Cure’s “In Between Days.” They will take you back to the time when you first heard them and just might remind you of the first time you fell for someone yourself.



Summer of 85


Written & Directed by: François Ozon
Based on the Novel “Dance On My Grave” by Aidan Chambers

Starring: Félix Lefebvre, Benjamin Voisin, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Philippine Velge, Melvin Poupaud, Laurent Fernandez

Produced by: Eric and Nicolas Altmayer
Runtime: 1h 41m
Genre: Gay & Lesbian, Romance, Drama
Original Language: French


Rating contributor: ShariK.Green tmc
I'm the Sr. Film Writer and Community Manager for I write, direct and produce short films with my production company, Good Stew Productions. Though it's difficult to answer this question when asked, I'd say my favorite movie is “The Big Chill.” I enjoy photography, poetry, and hiking and I adore animals, especially elephants. I live in Arizona and feel it's an outstanding and inspirational place to live.

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I can and will only say thankfully there are many mire film options this year