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:: A Cold Summer

A Cold Summer is a low budget Australian film in the tradition of Mike Leigh’s Naked. Three disaffected characters all dealing with their own grief meet by chance on the streets of Sydney. First, Bobby (Teo Gerbert) meets Tia (Olivia Pigeot). She has just had her purse stolen and they go to the pub for a consoling drink that soon turns into much more. Both lie about the state of their lives, some lies more obvious than others do. Then Tia bumps into an old school friend, Phaedra (Susan Prior), and they rekindle a mismatched, tense friendship that damages and heals both of them.

Director Paul Middleditch (Terra Nova) used the real lives of the actors, videoing improvisations based on their own experience then writing a script based on those scenes and shooting it on 35mm. The performances benefit enormously, with some honest, raw, naturalistic scenes. The characters may not be likeable but they are certainly understandable. The punching of an advertising executive gaining some muted cheers from the audience. Susan Prior stands out as the touching, grief stricken innocent, the only one of the three who is honest about her own life, and Teo Gerbert and Olivia Pigeot eat up the big screen with intensity and beauty.

This is the best Australian film that’s come out in a long time. The evocation of grief is far more empathetic than Japanese Story’s histrionics and the characters are real, flawed, funny, argumentative one second, apologetic the next. There are scenes that make want to jump in their and hug them, or slap them, or just tell them it’s all going to be okay. The shooting style is sometimes frenetic, often as intimate as a home video. The jump cut editing adds to the documentary feel. There needs to be more films like this, immediate, rough, without any quirkiness or pretty landscapes.

A Cold Summer has screened extensively at festivals around the world and deserves to do well at the box office. It’s a pity the R rating for medium level sex scenes might lessen the amount of people who go to see this interesting, original film.

Showing at the Lumiere Cinemas.