“You’re a mess” – Summer 1993 (Film Review)

Rating:

Frida’s parents have passed away, she’s brought into her aunt, uncle and cousin’s home in the countryside of the Catalan provinces. Forced to abandon her home in the streets of Barcelona we soon learn that she’s unable to differentiate from cabbage and lettuce or tie her own shoelaces, the countryside is something she doesn’t know – similar to the cause of death for her parents.

Our hero Frida, for the most part mute, her actions speak louder than the few words spoken. These actions cause harm to her cousin Anna (Paula Robles), distress to her new mother Marga (Bruna Cusí) and pressure to her new father Esteve (David Verdaguer). Ultimately leaving her to feel a growing distance towards her and this “perfect” family.
This piece meditates on grief, ignorance, family and the idea of change which regardless of age can continue to be a struggle for us all. There have been quite a few childhood tales in cinema that have produced the same silent voice, hoping to use that as a way to hold a mirror to the harsh parts of reality. Although, with the sheer lack of dialogue, there’s a need for smarter filmmaking and effective plot.

Although a disclaimer must be mentioned – this is not the gospel truth, the piece has managed to snag a few awards, one of them being for Best First Feature Award at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2017. Such an award proves that the piece isn’t worth writing off completely – like most European cinema.

The approach for cinematography from Santiago Racaj (Woman Without Piano, 2009) is distant, only to accentuate each action of Frida’s and reaction of those around her – the camera always two steps away from her. All colors are light and allow our hero to stand out amongst that, which she manages to do pretty well, even with her lips sealed.

Laia Artigas (Paquita Salas, 2016) has proven to be quite the young force and such an energy belongs in cinema. Her performance is worth praise and manages to remain in focus while other parts are played.

Summer 1993 isn’t as good as it’s aesthetic, proving to lack enough plot to sink your teeth into and only managing to reward it’s viewer at the end when it’s simply too late. Summer 1993 is an autobiographical piece that’s proven to mean something different to each viewer, making it much more open to different interpretations and attitudes. Although for the purpose of this review, this piece won’t feel rewarding, it won’t thrill the viewer.

Dir: Carla Simón

Scr: Carla Simón

Cast: Laia Artigas, Paula Robles, Bruna Cusí & David Verdaguer

Prd: Valérie Delpierre, Stefan Schmitz & María Zamora

DOP: Santiago Racaj

Music: Pau Boïgues & Ernest Pipó

Country: Spain

Runtime: 1h 37min

Summer 1993 is coming to selected cinemas in the UK for the 13th of July 2018