Frédéric and Angèle are a married couple, he a painter, she an actress of some renown who gave up her career to be with him. She is a woman who most men desire. Struggling actors Paul and Élisabeth, neither who has any money, start to date after they meet as extras on a movie set. Shortly before Paul and Élisabeth met, Frédéric and Paul became friends after being introduced by a mutual acquaintance. By association, all four become friends, especially strengthened when Paul and Élisabeth decide to move into Frédéric and Angèle's spacious apartment in Rome. Following an attempted suicide by Frédéric, Paul reflects on the friendship between the four. Because of physical proximity, they couldn't help but become closer emotionally. So whenever something happened within one of their lives, either directly concerning one or more of the others or not, it couldn't help but affect the other three, the battle lines more often drawn not by couple but by gender.Written by
Philippe Garrel at his lushest and mercifully at his most accessible. "A Burning Hot Summer" is a delectably sensuous tale of amour fou in which two couples spend a summer together in Rome; a case of Godard meets Minnelli. So as not to stray too far from the fold, Garrel makes one of the women, (Monica Belluci), an actress married to a so-so painter, (Garrel's son, Louis), and the other couple, movie extras. It's the same kind of self-enclosed world Woody Allen might inhabit sans the humour or indeed any attempt at Gallic charm; at times it reminded me of how Joan Crawford used to suffer in mink. All four central performances are excellent, even the usually reticent Louis Garrel makes his mark here. Unfortunately none of these people are particularly likeable and outside of the movie I'm sure I wouldn't want to know them. For once, however, that doesn't prove a barrier when the film is as smart as this one.
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