Summer ’04 DVD Review: Lurid German Sex-cellent Vacation

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A voyeuristic German romantic tragedy touching on the lives of a contemporary family vacationing on the Baltic Coast, Stefan Krohmer’s Summer ’04 is engagingly crafted with an involving narrative flow, but the story is simply too laid back and insular to ultimately rise to the level of affecting drama. More in the nature of audience eavesdropping on some scandalous neighbors than gripping or meaningful moviemaking, Summer ’04 is wracked with superficial, amoral characters and petty, hand wringing sordid emotional preoccupations and obsessions.

Martina Gedeck is Miriam, a youthful fortysomething mother of a teenage boy Niels (Lucas Kotaranin) and wife of Andre (Peter Davor). Her son has invited his perky twelve year old girlfriend Livia (Svea Lohde) to summer with them. The story is consumed with all sorts of downtime trivial pursuits until a mysterious, handsome German-American adult neighbor Bill (Robert Seeliger) catches the eye of the precocious Livia, and she begins wandering off to spend time with him.

While the rest of the family isn’t at all concerned about this odd turn of events, Miriam switches into panic mode about Livia’s wellbeing, and possible underage indiscretion with this hunk. She confronts Bill in a harsh and accusatory manner, which is quickly revealed as an irrepressible sexual attraction to the younger man. He is soon reciprocating, though clearly ambivalent about an involvement with a married woman. But Miriam, caught up in a highly eroticized midlife crisis, seemingly helplessly pursues Bill without any shame or respect for her husband, while also expressing obsessive jealousy towards her young female house guest.

Needless to say, terrible tragedy ensues and numerous hearts are broken. But somehow the entire murky, though oddly subdued proceedings end in a weirdly amicable fashion, without hostility or remorse, over a round of exotic cocktails. Leaving the audience with the most pressing question of all. Namely, what was the point.

Koch Entertainment

Unrated

One Star

DVD Features: Deleted Scenes; Making Of Featurette.

Prairie Miller is a New York multimedia journalist online, in print and radio, who reviews movies and conducts in-depth interviews. She can also be heard on WBAI/Pacifica National Radio Network’s Arts Express.