Romanian film review – Drifting along: The Story of a Summer Lover

One of the nicest surprises at this year’s Transilvania International Film Festival was the premiere of Paul Negoescu’s comedy Povestea unui pierde-vară/The Story of a Summer Lover. Now the film is finally running in theatres and if you feel like a breezy, light comedy, just ignore the awkward English title (“pierde-vară” would be translated better with something like “slacker”) and put this on your watch list.

The summer lover is Petru, a thirty-something university professor who likes to hang out with his two best friends, a writer and an actor, similarly slacker-ish, and generally refuse to grow up. But when his sort-of girlfriend is suddenly pregnant, Petru has to do some thinking. What follows is a series of less-than-ideal decisions, involving other women, of course, and a lot of chatting with his buddies.

None of this is new material and the neurotic, immature intellectual has been around for ages (Woody Allen seems to be a big inspiration for Negoescu), but Paul’s manic attempts to figure out what he wants makes for entertaining watching, even if one can guess how things will turn out. For those who know Bucharest, it is particularly lovely to see the town bathed in summery warm colours, and its old quarters with lovely architecture. This is anything but the grey, rough Bucharest of the “New Wave”, and a refreshing sight for it. The picturesque look is in tone with the film‘s general nostalgic feel, from the 1930s music to the style of voice-over.

Other elements are wobblier, like the film‘s lethargic feel, a superficial characterisation, or jokes that don‘t always land, but for those happy to drift along bemusedly, these are no big issues.

Paul Negoescu’s previous comedy, Două lozuri /Two Lottery Tickets, was an audience darling in 2016, and I should expect nothing less from this one, especially by the reaction of the TIFF audience. Here’s hoping the summer lover has one successful autumn.

By Ioana Moldovan, columnist

(Photo source: Facebook/Povestea unui pierde-vara)