104min | France | 2014
Michel (Guillaume de Tonquedec) is the very picture of post-war bourgeois respectability – an ambitious provincial solicitor with a devoted wife, Hélène (Jeanne Balibar), and dreams of public office. However, he harbours a dark secret. Every weekend, while supposedly working on complex cases, Michel flees to the country to indulge his urge to cross-dress as Mylène, spending time in the company of his old war buddy, Jean-Marie (Nicolas Bouchaud) who also has a female alter ego, Flavia.
Flavia’s house becomes the secret meeting point for a ragtag collection of similar minded men, who meet to live, love and sing as women. When they are joined by a young soldier fleeing France’s war in Algeria, the conflict provides a dark emotional backdrop to their double lives.
This heartfelt and memorable film is the directorial debut of writer-director Mario Fanfani, with the brilliant cinematography evoking the claustrophobic moral climate of France in the years after WW2.
Summer Nights (Winner of the Queer Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival 2014) is a captivating and insightful take on bourgeois sensibilities in a fascinating era of social turbulence.