Before Summer Ends is a road trip movie, but quite unlike most others. Three 30-something friends decide to finally holiday together in the South of France before one of their number returns home to Tehran.
The film provides a touching, genuine portrayal of male friendship – something which is unusual to see in cinemas, as Hollywood’s continued obsession with men being too cool or macho to actually sit around and talk about how they’re feeling still dominating cinema screens. Before Summer Ends’ bucking of that trend is down to director Goormaghtigh’s inventive decision to blend fictional improvisation and documentary.
There’s an amazing friendship between the central trio, who are (unsurprisingly) utterly convincing as close friends – free and easy in their conversation, with lots of late-night chats where they ramble and talk nonsense with all barriers down. It’s particularly refreshing to see Iranian men in this context, and there’s lots of discussion about their particular experiences in France and the time you must invest in making friends across cultural boundaries when you’re an adult.
With their friendship comes the recognisable gentle teasing of knowing one another so well, knowing how to change minds and knowing how to wind each other up, which provides a lot of the film’s levity. When the boys spend time with a pair of French girls at their campsite, it allows for some amusing “he said, she said” banter and flirting analysis as tactics of playing it cool misfire quite comprehensively.
Before Summer Ends‘ laid-back vibe and authentic portrayal of male friendship make for a charming film, but it lives comfortably within its own limitations. It’s cosy, domestic, and more of a talking and observing film (as a part-documentary) than a film that contains any dramatic, thought-provoking action.
CAST: Arash, Hossein, Ashkan, Charlotte, Michèle
DIRECTOR: Maryam Goormaghtigh
WRITER: Maryam Goormaghtigh
SYNOPSIS: Three young Iranian men living in Paris decide to spend summer on the road before one of them moves back to Tehran.