SLIFF 2015 review: THE SUMMER OF SANGAILE
How’s that old 1950’s standard go? “Why must I be a teeeen-ager in love?”. Well, for one thing teen love inspires countless films, from all over the world. Take Lithuania, for example. That’s the setting for THE SUMMER OF SANGAILE, a most magical time of year, indeed. Now, it is a love story, between two 17 year-old girls, set against the backdrop of fashion, photography, and … aeronautics? Tray table up and buckle yourself in…
The film begins at an air show at a small town airport. Lovely, somber Sangaile (Julija Steponaityte) has her head in the clouds, almost bumping into other flying fans, as she stares at the circling prop planes. She catches the attention of a brightly attired show worker, Auste (Aiste Dirziute), who is selling raffle tickets. The prize: a ride on one of the two-seater stunt planes. The friendly Auste gives the shy Sangaile a ticket, assuring her that she has the winning number. But when that number is called (thanks to some chicanery), Sangaile doesn’t step forward, choosing instead to dash home. Auste gazes sadly as she peddles away. At her family house, Sangaile insults her parents and party guests before she retreats to her attic room. There she finds an odd comfort in making small cuts on her arm. Sangaile returns to the airport the next day and discovers that Auste is a waitress in the terminal cafeteria. After sneaking her a special pastry treat, Auste invites Sangaile to join her as she hangs out with some friends after her shift ends. She has fun, but Sangaile’s focus stays on Auste and vice versa. Soon they are spending long days at Auste’s apartment as she creates dresses fo Sangaile. This leads to photo sessions in the nearby woods, as the friendship between the two young women evolves into a passionate love affair.
The freedom of flying connects with the ecstasy and blossoming of love in writer/director Alante Kavaite’s dreamlike portrait of two very different women who somehow connect. The outgoing Auste and the brooding Samsaile do fulfill a deep need in each other. Auste seems to give direction to the drifting, unfocused Samsaile making her feel alive, more so than her destructive “cutting” addiction. The film doesn’t quite reach the sublime heights of BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR, but it’s a sweet, sensual story that often soars as high as the planes that the title heroine adores. Like that season THE SUMMER OF SANGAILE is warm and full of fun and frolic.
THE SUMMER OF SANGAILE screens at Landmark’s Plaza Frontenac on Friday, November 13 at2:05 PM and Saturday, November 14 at noon as part of the 24th Annual Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival. Purchase tickets here and here