Summer '04

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Cinema Guild

NEW YORK -- This drama from German director Stefan Krohmer detailing the emotional and romantic complications during a family's summer vacation displays a subtlety that ultimately detracts from its effectiveness. Although intelligent and insightful, "Summer '04" is also more than just a little bit dull. The film recently received its U.S. theatrical premiere at New York's Film Forum.

Miriam (Martina Gedeck, recently seen in "The Lives of Others") and Andre (Peter Davor) are a well-preserved fortysomething married couple vacationing on the Baltic Coast with their 15-year-old son, Niels (Lucas Kotaranin), and his precociously sexual 12-year-old friend, Livia (Svea Lohde). Although Miriam prides herself on her liberal attitudes, she becomes more than a little disconcerted when she suspects Livia of having a sexual relationship with Bill (Robert Seeliger), a German-American living next door.

But when she decides to get to the bottom of the situation, she finds herself increasingly drawn to the handsome stranger, with a torrid sexual affair resulting.

Reminiscent of "Knife in the Water," even if it lacks the coiled tension of that Polanski classic, "Summer '04" ultimately emerges as a perceptive exploration of domestic ennui and complicated family dynamics. It also boasts a genuine eroticism in its depiction of the sexual passion between Miriam and her younger lover, with Gedeck delivering a terrific performance as a middle-aged woman rediscovering her sexuality. But the film ultimately suffers from lackadaisical pacing, contrived plot elements and the familiarity of its themes, with the result that it never quite delivers on its promise.

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