The Summer of Sangaile (Alanté Kavaïté, 2015) 

Julija Steponaityte in a scene from Alanté Kavaïté's The Summer of Sangaile {Photo: STRAND RELEASING}

Julija Steponaityte in a scene from Alanté Kavaïté's The Summer of Sangaile {Photo: STRAND RELEASING}

The Summer of Sangaile screens on Friday, September 18 at Chicago's Landmark Century Cinema. For additional ticketing information, click here

This French/Lithuanian production made its debut earlier at this year’s Sundance Film Festival – a venue that’s typically not renowned for its foreign offerings. Alanté Kavaïté’s The Summer of Sangaile bares many rough around the edges blights, though it remains in constant propinquity to greatness, possessing a visual assurance that’s rare for a sophomore effort.

Sangaile (Julija Steponaityte), a seventeen year old fascinated by stunt planes, finds herself drawn to the fashion-oriented Auste (Aiste Dirziute). Kavaïté delicately amplifies the eroticism between the two, as displayed in a lascivious scene where the Auste measures Sangaile for a dress. Medium framing bleeds into subtle close-ups that make every gesture resonate as intensely meaningful. Shot by Dominique Colin – perhaps best known for his work with Gaspar Noé – the film is an immaculate visual exercise, often finding Auste and Sangaile in passionate embrace amid swirls of red and blue.

Visually sumptuous as Sangaile may be, the picture is troubled by a poorly conceived maternal relationship that steers much of its second half. This, compounded by an already paltry array of dramatic touchstones – Sangaile being afflicted by vertigo (putting a damper on her aspirations to become a pilot) and self-cutting on the side – the 90-minute exercise articulates the concerns of a teenager without getting too deep into the psychology of it all.