Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Summer's Children

(Julius Kohanyi, 1979)
Brooding auto mechanic Thomas Hauff's quest to reunite with his once-beloved sister boasts a surprisingly effective flashback structure as well as an unusually apt fusion of social realist and exploitation modes - both the horseplay with the boys at work and the (awesome!) tours of Toronto city lights recall "Goin' Down the Road" even as the plot descends into a sensationalized tour of bookies, floozies, hit men, and telegraphed kink. Not that it's a thrill a minute - the pace remains confoundingly deliberate throughout, with long minutes dedicated to sour domestic exchanges with a health-nut girlfriend and a jazz DJ acquaintance. Even the flashbacks comprise little more than testy sibling interactions, packing little drama until you figure out what they're leading up to. And you do figure it out, which further dulls the impact of a damagingly under-realized climax. Still, there's something haunting about the peculiar mix of elements here; the dropped threads and dead ends add to a pervasive sense of disorientation that befits these lost, frustrated, questing characters, and if it ain't profound, it's still kind of mesmerizing.

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