Summer of Secrets (1976)

SUMMER OF SECRETS (1976)
Article 3625 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-3-2011
Posting Date: 7-18-2011
Directed by Jim Sharman
Featuring Arthur Dignam, Rufus Collins, Nell Campbell
Country: Australia
What it is: A strange experiment

A young couple arrive at a deserted beach house, but their solitude is shattered when they are spied on by the assistant of an eccentric scientist who lives nearby. The woman is kidnapped by the assistant, and the young man must confront the scientist to find out why…

The first two-thirds of the movie is almost impenetrable; we know something is going on and we’re given plenty of little plot hints to deal with (the scientist is obsessed with his dead wife, the assistant is almost painfully paranoid, the scientist is having the assistant shoot movies about his memories), but since we’re never given the threads that pull these things together, you end up antsily waiting for it all to make sense with the possible fear that it never will. It’s not until we get a major revelation two-thirds of the way through the movie that it starts coming together, and I can say that the situation is rather interesting indeed. However, one question remains – is it interesting enough to compensate for the willful eccentricity of the first two-thirds of the movie? Sadly, I have to say “not quite”, and this is especially apparent when you hit the end of the movie, and you realize the story never quite hits the level of emotional resonance that it needed to really make it work; the earlier part of the movie is so off-putting that it distances you too much from the characters. Furthermore, certain parts of the movie never do quite mesh; in retrospect, much of the behavior of the assistant never makes any sense. I wouldn’t doubt that the movie has a bit of a cult following; after all, it was directed by the same guy who gave us THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, and there is enough here that I can see how someone might be really taken with the movie. Nevertheless, I think this is one movie that could have been a lot better if it hadn’t been trying so hard to be difficult.

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