Douglas Meredith (Sir Sean Connery) is a respectable married middle aged doctor with a terrible secret. He's been having a secret consensual incestuous affair with his niece Kate (Betsy Brantley) for some time now. She lives in the Swiss Alps and they have their badly needed privacy there. One day, Swiss guide Johann Biari (Lambert Wilson) shows up to take them mountain climbing. Kate shows a faint interest in this man, which worries Douglas. During the climb an accident happens and their lives are changed forever.
Of Fred Zinnemann, Robert Horton at eightiesmovies.wordpress.com said this movie is, "set in the time of his youth, around and on the mountains that held fascination for the Austrian-born Zinnemann." See more »
Fred Zinnemann edited 11 minutes from this film for its 1987 CBS television network premiere. See more »
I'm one of those who think this film is a neglected gem.
It has a number of twists but it is the interaction between the three leads that makes it so compelling. Without giving too much away, the story, which is set in 1932, is about a couple, Douglas Meredith (Sean Connery) and the much younger Kate Meredith (Betsy Brantley) who arrive at a Swiss chalet during the summer for some hiking and a little mountain climbing.
As the story unfolds we realise that although they introduce themselves as husband and wife, there is something difficult about the relationship. The whole thing comes to a head and decisions are forced when Kate attracts the attention of a young climbing guide played by Lambert Wilson.
This was Fred Zinneman's last film, but it has a different mood and pace than many of his films. It unfolds at not so much a leisured pace but a measured one, and there is plenty of tension throughout the story. It seems very much like a Merchant Ivory production. If you have seen films such as "Heat and Dust", "Howard's End" or "Remains of the Day", you'll know what I mean - although it was made a few years before any of those.
Apparently the film bombed when it was first released and the critics were less than impressed. Possibly that was partly because it was an unexpected entry from the man who had helmed films such as "From Here to Eternity", "High Noon" and "The Day of the Jackal", but I think they may also have been put off by the revelation about the Meredith's relationship.
Sean Connery plays a man with much on his mind with no small amount of guilt thrown in. He handles it with the same understatement that underpins the film. Surprisingly, Connery's natural power comes through more noticeably here than in many of his action roles.
With her rather unflattering 1930's fashions and bobbed hairstyle, Betsy Brantley at first seems unprepossessing as Kate but her openness and freshness soon makes believable the attention she receives from the males in the movie.
If you're tastes run to "Fast and Furious 4" then this probably isn't your movie, but if you are looking for a beautifully acted and photographed story with a touch of intrigue told in an unhurried manner, "Five Days in Summer" is worth seeking out.
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