LA Film Fest 2012
By Don Simpson | June 25, 2012
Director: Rolando Colla
Writers: Rolando Colla, Roberto Scarpetti, Olivier Lorelle, Pilar Anguita-MacKay
Starring: Fiorella Campanella, Armando Condolucci, Alessia Barela, Antonio Merone, Roberta Fossile, Marco D’Orazi, Aaron Hitz, Monica Cervini, Francesco Huang, Chiara Scolari
Nic’s (Armando Condolucci) parents fight — like a lot. His father beats his mother, sometimes in public. Afterwards, she runs away, but she always comes back. Nic is 12-years old. He is a callous ball of anger and resentment, teetering on the verge of becoming a sociopath. It is difficult to determine what is more traumatizing for Nic, his father’s volcanic temper or the fact that his mother always comes back for more.
Nic deals with the aforementioned family drama by role playing in borderline dangerous games with his friends. The games, which are centered around a dilapidated shed located in the middle of a cornfield, are riddled with psychosexual drama fueled by raging preteen hormones. An innocent game of hide-and-seek becomes a “killing game” where a killer is allowed to do whatever she/he wants to their victim, pushing their victim’s thresholds for pain and humiliation; while another kid plays the role of a cigarette-smoking detective who inflicts equally painful and humiliating justice upon the killer. So, these are the games of summer?
All the while, Nic attempts to navigate his first crush. Marie (Fiorella Campanella) is the target of Nic’s affections but sometimes those affections are conveyed more violently than other times. However, Marie has enough shit going on in her own 12-year old life already — first and foremost she is not a happy camper because her mother will not explain why her father disappeared many years ago. So, Nic trains Marie how to endure pain and feel nothing.
I really do not enjoy watching films about women who are abused (physically and/or verbally) by men and continue to put up with it. Unfortunately, that is a major part of writer-director Rolando Colla’s Summer Games. That is not to say that Colla’s film glorifies the machismo abuse — it does not — but it does not offer any redeemable characters or solutions either. Instead, Summer Games presents domestic abuse as a hopelessly unbreakable circle; a hereditary trait that is destined to be passed along from one generation to the next.
What I do find intriguing about Summer Games is its representation of the class divide within the microcosm of the campground where the characters are summering. Marie is of a higher social class than Nic, showcased by her living arrangements on the campground. Marie and her mother live in a cabin, while Nic’s family lives in a tent. While the families in the cabins seem to be relatively stable, the tensions between Nic’s parents appear to be exacerbated by their working class struggle. It seems that money is the root of all evil, even when that evil is domestic violence.