10:30 P.M. SUMMER (Jules Dassin, 1966)

Not having read Marguerite Düras’s novella Dix heures et demie du soir en été, which Düras herself and Jules Dassin, this film’s director, adapted, I cannot say what does or does not go on there; but I don’t see in the film evidence of the infidelity between Paul and Claire that everyone else takes as a given. Paul and wife Maria are traveling in Spain, heading for Madrid, along with their little daughter and their friend Claire. It certainly is the case that Maria believes that her husband is having an affair with Claire, perhaps because Paul may have cheated on her some time ago in Verona—or may not have. Düras is that sort of elusive Euro-crypto kind of writer.
     And, abetted by the alcoholic fog in which Maria moves, and passes out, and dreams, Dassin plays up the ambiguity, creating a delirious atmosphere that leaves at least me uncertain as to what Maria “sees” going on between Paul and Claire. Moreover, this is a film which segues from one character to another one in terms of point-of-view shots identifying the perspective of each. The first character is local peasant Rodrigo Palestra, who shoots to death his teenaged wife and her lover; the second character is Maria, one passage of whose subjective shots show her attempt to help Rodrigo escape by car in the dead of night from the police that are searching for him. Somehow, jealous Rodrigo and meddling Maria hint, to me at least, that Maria is herself jealous by association. Reality here is slippery.
     Moreover, there are hints that Maria is jealous of Paul because she thinks he has Claire, whom she, Maria, wants for herself. Maria proclaims, “I never looked at [Claire] naked without seeing her with Paul”; she tells Paul she no longer loves him—after telling white-clad Claire, “White, white, white is the color my true love wears.”
     But I apparently see this movie differently than others do. Regardless, I find it dull and silly, although also, at its best, visually hallucinatory and gorgeously lit and color photographed by Gábor Pogány.
     Maria, who gets lost in Madrid, is (poorly) played by Melina Mercouri, Dassin’s wife.

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