Cinema’s love affairs with seemingly endless, carefree summers is given a rude awakening in Emilie Aussel’s short drama. As a bunch of French teenagers gather to celebrate the end of exams and the start of the rest of their lives, the beach promises cook-outs and late night swims. Suddenly, one of their number is lost in the water: continuing summer without her feels unthinkable, but soon inevitable. 

Our Eternal Summer (L’Été l’éternité) juggles a large cast of characters over its 72-minute runtime. The early disappearance and death, before audiences know much of anyone’s personality, is astutely judged; viewers, much like her companions, are left wondering what the young woman would have become and how she would have grown over that last summer before adulthood. However, the characters who are followed through the rest of the film are similarly underdeveloped. What begins as a universalised sketch fails to gain significance or poignancy outside of the general, shared tragedy. Additionally, the cynicism with which eager yet misplaced memorials is approached weakens the film’s third act. Processing grief through performance art is a strange yet valid method of exploration, especially for the young and artistically minded. Used here, there is too much detachment for the sincerity to override the awkwardness, resulting in slight derision.

The film takes an almost documentary approach to its narrative, inserting talking heads from the teenagers as they discuss the lives they miss and the ones they imagine for their lost friend. Scenes jump between locations and characters as if in a dream, heightening the sense of a summer gone wrong. However, the lack of cohesion fractures meaningful insight. 

Our Eternal Summer, despite a strong premise and beautiful scenic design, falls flat. It begins with a compelling picture of a summer gone wrong but forces the exploration to inorganic results. 



CAST: Agathe Talrich, Marcia Feugeas, Matthieu Lucci, Idir Azougli, Nina Villanova, Antonin Totot, Rose Timbert, Louis Pluton, Emmanuel Rol, Safinah Mixty Mihidjay

DIRECTOR: Émilie Aussel

WRITERS: Émilie Aussel, Emmanuelle Bayamack-Tam, Yacine Badday

SYNOPSIS: A group of French teenagers are set for a carefree, joyful summer holiday until one of their number drowns in a freak swimming accident.