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MOVIES: BFI Flare - The Summer With Carmen - Review

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The Summer with Carmen is a meta narrative that takes place on a Greek Island during well; the summer – at Athens’ queer beach, 30 something Demonsthenses offers to help his best friend and wannabe filmmaker Nikitas draft an idea for a feature debut. This follows what happens with Demonsthenes reaching out to his ex, Panos, and the film explores the dynamics between them both, and a dog – Carmen.

It's a metatextual twist on the queer movie experience – there’s a beautiful backdrop to it all that has a similar objective to Rotting in the Sun but without the shock value; there’s more than a healthy amount of cock and balls in this and yet – it feels natural; male full body representation on cinema is a rare thing and it’s fantastic to see The Summer with Carmen explore all kinds.

The film is aware of its humour and what it’s trying to be – the two leads are discussing who should play them in a film that will inevitably win Nikitas an Oscar and Chris Hemsworth is suggested for the role of Demonsthenses, who hasn’t been in a gay film, prompting the suggestion of Andrew Garfield to play Panos. Now that’s a film that I’d watch – maybe in the inevitable American remake? The charm of Yorgos Tsiantoulas and Andreas Lampropoulos is hard to ignore however, and they get along as best friends: the film wittly introduces Demonsthenses as the Hero and Nikitas as his best friend with text-over-screen titles usually reserved for location introductions, as director Zacharias Mavroeidis subverts all the cliches.

Two friends brainstorming a screenplay gives an insight into the creative process as they use it as a really clever framework to explore their life and key events within it. It’s funny, witty and extremely self-aware of what the film is trying to achieve, helped by a wonderful look and feel of the piece from Thodoros Mihopoulos, cinematographer who makes The Summer with Carmen look like a dreamy summer holiday that you never could have imagined. There are times as always when films like these reach a point when they become too self-aware, but that is not the case with The Summer with Carmen. It treads a knowing line and succeeds in doing so.

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