Au Revoir l’Ete
You may see Koji Fukada’s movie parading under the titles Au Revoir l’Ete, Hotori No Sakuko, or even Goodbye Summer, and you might notice that the initial release date of the film on the festival circuit was way back in 2013. But with this movie, none of this really matters. You can see it when you like, and call it what you want, but it remains what it is with a calm defiance: a genial chamber piece anchored by an inquisitive teen who tentatively explores the social world away from school.
Au Revoir l’Ete opens with Sakuko (Fumi Nikaido) being nudged awake on the train. She’s a girl who has all the bright-eyed, bushy-tailed characteristics of a typical teen, yet her curiously possesses the kind of cautious thirst for knowledge about family that might be found in an ailing sociology professor. It’s the sunset of summer, and Sakuko has ventured over to this beachside town to accompany her aunt Mikie while she housesits. Sakuko is supposed to be revising for her university exams, but the company she constantly finds herself in sees her peering into her family and friends’ social history rather than through her textbooks.
Surrounding these social circles are picturesque snaps of shadowy woodland, warm seaside and grassy hills, and even when the dialogue cranks up a notch from its ordinary careful pacing, it’s still unlikely to ruffle any feathers. There’s a lazy, late summer ambiance that encapsulates the picture in every sense, and it’s the movie’s airiness that acts as both its plus point and its downfall. While the breezy, carefree atmosphere may not have the conviction to hold some viewers’ attention, Fukada’s simplistic and light-hearted tone and style will undoubtedly win others over with its charm.
A pleasant stroll through a series of likable characters’ social histories, Au Revoir l’Ete won’t bash down any barriers in the world of cinema, but will be quite content to amble on anyway. It’s a movie that really captures the wistful, fleeting feeling of late summer, and any film that manages that is very hard to dislike.
Au Revoir l’Ete is released nationwide on 24th April 2015.
Watch the trailer for Au Revoir l’Ete here: