This is the hardest time I’ve had slapping a rating on a movie in a long time, for the simple reason that I love its ambition and capital-V Vision, but can’t stand what it’s doing with those things.
Let the Summer Never Come Again is a punishingly long movie, nearly three and a half hours. The majority of films I’ve seen that run that long are narrative epics. But even in 90 minutes, Let the Summer…’s story would feel slight and meditative; at 202 it feels like an endurance test.
In addition, Alexandre Koberidze (director, writer, cinematographer, editor) uses an intentionally lo-fi style, pixelated with low framerate, for the entire duration of the film. It adds a hazy, filtered sensation to the entire film, as if we’re experiencing life through a cell phone screen (or possibly a hangover). It’s an exhausting style to sit through for such a long feature.
What I love, though, is Koberidze’s eye for urban life in Tbilisi, Georgia, and the occasional patterns of beauty that emerge. He sparingly includes orchestral cues that add a sense of drama to the scattered images, sometimes to profound effect (a tour of sleeping dogs throughout the city impressionistically captures the diversity and contradictions of modernity).
Koberidze is clearly trying to create a brand new narrative texture constructed from old pieces: The use of narration (in lieu of intertitles), off-screen conversations, and stagey medium shots recalls old-timey silent films, but feels distinctly fresh. The film’s droning quality and its repeated settings and motifs also viscerally capture the themes of depressing failure in a city.
It didn’t quite connect with me (in the way the similarly long and hazy As I Was Moving Ahead… did). But Let the Summer Never Come Again is promising and daring enough to get my hopes up for Koberidze’s new film, What Do We See When We Look at the Sky?
Nearly Good (4/8)
Note: This review was originally published elsewhere. Please excuse brevity or inconsistencies in style. If you have questions or feedback, please leave a comment or contact me.