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Carlo Sironi My Summer with Irène Quell'estate con Irène Review


My Summer with Irène | 2024 Berlin Intl. Film Festival Review

My Summer with Irène | 2024 Berlin Intl. Film Festival Review

Summertime Sadness: Sironi Escapes to Sicily in Oblique Friendship Drama

Carlo Sironi My Summer with irene ReviewThere’s no running away from the past, no matter how glorious the sun dappled idyll one has access to. At least this seems to be the overall message in Carlo Sironi’s sophomore film My Summer with Irène, (Quell’estate con Irène), which finds an unexpected friendship between two young women blossoming through their shared angst and adventurous sense of rebellion. A period piece set in 1997, Sicily, which is visualized mostly through the technology used to document their errant journey, Sironi sidesteps the usual kinds of musical indicators cementing this time capsule. His script also avoids revealing anything concrete about the traumatic backgrounds which landed them in long term hospital care, dependent upon the juxtaposition of their personalities for narrative flavor. Unfortunately, there’s little of interest to grasp onto, its main characters as interesting as bits of floating debris accidentally scooped up in the same net.

Clara (Maria Camilla Brandenburg) and Irene (Noée Abita) are two seventeen-year-old young women on a summer camping trip orchestrated by the hospital where they’re being treated. Clara is somewhat more withdrawn, but she strikes up a friendship with the outgoing Irene, and they share fantasies about a summer vacation. As the camping trip ends, Irene suggests they embark on their idea to go to the beach, and they abscond to an island off the coast of Sicily. As they enjoy their sun soaked surroundings and hang out with a group of other youngsters, Clara seems to emerge from her shell while the vivacious Irene retreats into herself as their escapade comes to an end.

Carlo Sironi My Summer with Irène Quell'estate con Irène Review

Sironi’s title and tone indicate a potential homage to Éric Rohmer, particularly the French auteur’s 1980s titles such as Pauline at the Beach (1983) or The Green Ray (1986). As the titular Irene, Noée Abita is well cast if this is the purpose, already previously aligned with Rohmer and his Full Moon in Paris (1984) star Pascale Ogier in Mikhael Hers’ The Passengers of the Night (2022). Compared to the powderkeg surrogate scenario of his 2019 debut Sole, however, Sironi’s latest, co-written by Silvana Tamma (The Peacock’s Paradise, 2021) never really finds its stride.

Carlo Sironi My Summer with Irene Review

Initially, the scenario of Clara and Irene promises to echo something like that of Valeria Bruni Tedeschi and Micaela Ramazzotti in Paolo Virzi’s Like Crazy (2016), two women with wildly different temperaments fleeing a mental institution and going on a purposeful road trip. As the narrative of Irene rolls along, the differences between these two young women become less apparent. Flirting with boys in a local group, they explore the beach, film random people on their camcorder while they make up silly conversation for their subjects, and make vague statements about the future.

Eventually, as the title promises, Clara’s perspective kinda sorta seems to take precedence, with Irene becoming more emotionally erratic (which means running off to be alone and crying). Where they’re going and where they’ve been seems to be of little interest to anyone involved, however. Akin to a growing list of global titles utilizing this kind of scenario (last year’s That Summer with Carmen from Zacharias Mavroeidis comes to mind, even though it has a much more complex narrative structure by comparison), it’s a slice-of-life drama which doesn’t ever feel alive. If this was the summer where they came of age, their future remains a tabula rasa.

Reviewed on February 18th at the 2024 Berlin International Film Festival – Generation 14plus section. 90 mins.


Los Angeles based Nicholas Bell is's Chief Film Critic and covers film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and TIFF. He is part of the critic groups on Rotten Tomatoes, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and GALECA. His top 3 for 2021: France (Bruno Dumont), Passing (Rebecca Hall) and Nightmare Alley (Guillermo Del Toro). He was a jury member at the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival.

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