Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Summer of Sangailė

Sangailės vasara; drama, Lithuania / France / Netherlands, 2015; D: Alantė Kavaitė, S: Julija Steponaityte, Aistė Diržiūtė, Jūratė Sodytė, Martynas Budraitis 

Sangaile is a depressive teenage girl who sometimes cuts herself on the wrist. Her parents stay in a cottage in the rural area for the summer and Sangaile observes a plane show where she meets another girl, Auste, who works in the local pastry shop. The two become friends and, eventually, lesbian lovers. Auste helps Sangaile stop cutting herself and build self-esteem. Sangaile loves planes, but gets dizzy from flying and is thus affraid. Auste still helps her board a plane and conquer her dizziness. Two years later, Sangaile becomes a pilot.

Director Alante Kavaite's 3rd film is also the 1st one that she made in her homeland, Lithuania, and a one that thus showed her in a very comfortable and content edition, dwelling on the subject and LGBT topic she likes. "The Summer of Sangaile" is principally a character study about overcoming one's fears and anxieties in order to live life to the fullest, presented in the form of the heroine who stops cutting herself and ends her depression when she meets a person who loves her and 'twitches' her from this grey existance – rarely did words have such a healing effect as the sequence where Sangaile and Auste are lying near a lake in the nature, and the other says to her: "Thank you for being who you are". Filmmed in a highly minimalistic style, with very scarce dialogue, "Sangaile" suffers a bit from this slow pace, which is why some viewers will be impatient with it, or conclude that this might have worked better as a short film, not as a rather overstretched feature, yet Kavaite's honesty and genuine emotions really seem 'spot on', the sequence where Sangaile and Auste make love in the grass at sunset with the small light bulbs illuminating their dresses is highly poetic, several shots of the planes are great whereas the biggest surprise is actress Aiste Dirziute, who is simply fabulous and sweet as Auste, making her the one of the few acting discoveries of the year.


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