La Belle Saison                          Time:  4:10 PM     Contains Sexual Content
Director:  Catherine Corsini
French, 2015, 105 Minutes Running Time
French, with English subtitles
Delphine and Carole meet in Paris in the early ‘70s, a time of post-’68 agitation.  Catherine Corsini’s “Summertime” is a film about the struggle for sexual freedom and women’s rights, and also about the power of region, class and custom in the lives of its characters.  Carole, a professor of Spanish literature and a political activist, is part of a feminist group organizing for equal pay, abortion rights and access to contraception.  Delphine is younger and less worldly, and has come to Paris from a countryside farm.  Though she is intrigued by the group’s militant energy, she is mostly drawn to Carole.  They fall in love and experience a giddy burst of liberation and romantic bliss that is complicated when Delphine is called back home to the farm by a family emergency.
How free are Carole and Delphine?  Is one freer than the other?  The answers are not as simple as they might seem at first.  Carole might be older and more sophisticated, but Delphine has a clearer sense of her own sexuality, and in Paris, she seduces Carole away from her mopey, boyfriend.  But when the scene shifts to Delphine’s family farm in Northern France, the dynamic between the two lovers shifts as well.  Delphine is both in her element – she moves with more confidence and ease amid the tractors and livestock than on crowded city streets – and at risk of exposure. Delphine’s mother, Monique, is quite traditional and expects her daughter to marry her childhood friend.
Meanwhile, Carole sometimes looks at Monique with pity, seeing her as the uncomplaining victim of patriarchal oppression.  While “Summertime” doesn’t entirely contradict this view, treating male domination as an unfortunate fact of rural life, it doesn’t use Delphine’s family to score easy ideological points.  Delphine loves Carole, but she also loves her parents.  More than that, her connection to the land is a powerful source of her identity.  As the summer advances, the contours of a terrible, inevitable choice become clear, and a cold blast of reality intrudes on the warmth and sunshine of a beautiful romance.