Directed by Michel Blanc, starring Charlotte Rampling, Jacques Dutronc, Carole Bouquet, Karine Viard, Clothilde Courau and Denis Podalydès.

'Summer Things' is a comedy of manners about a group of friends who find themselves on holiday together in Normandy. Through a string of misunderstandings and misadventure, a privileged bunch of Parisians fall in and out of each other’s beds. Charlotte Rampling heads the cast as Elizabeth, a bored, bourgeois housewife rediscovering childhood haunts and her long-ignored sexuality. Between the champagne, sunbathing and illicit trysts, a series of strained relationships is revealed.

Adapted by Michel Blanc from a novel by English writer Joseph Connolly, this is a tale all about plot. Complete with much slamming of doors and mistakes in identity, the vacation takes on farcical proportions from the word go. Elizabeth, whose husband remains in the city to pursue an exotic indiscretion of his own, invites Julie (Courau), a pretty young mother harassed by an incessantly screaming child, to take his place at the hotel. Meanwhile, Véro (Viard) and Jérôme (Podalydès), with long-suffering teenage son in tow, bicker their way through the shame of mounting money worries.

Elsewhere, a psychotically jealous husband, played with relish by the director himself, threatens the sanity of his once-happy, now horrified wife (Bouquet) and a teenager skips off to Chicago with her father’s employee for a secret round of sex, drugs and videotaping. Throw in some more bedhopping, a bit of baby swapping, a suicide attempted and a virginity lost and you get the idea.

Featuring a cast of almost uniformly unsympathetic creatures, this is a film about the privileged in pursuit of pleasure. And in the midst of the holiday antics, a darker side begins to emerge. Through the cracks in the comedy and casual infidelity, desperation rather than desire comes to the fore.

All in all, 'Summer Things' is a one-night stand of a movie: engaging while it lasts, somewhat lacking in romance, and ending without inspiring an interest in more.

Siobhán Mannion